Emma Groome explores the colourful fog of Ann Veronica Janssens’ yellowbluepink exhibition
Many of you probably walk past the Wellcome Collection every day, but how many of you have actually been inside? I confess, this was my first visit. But having been, I’ll probably be back, since it’s a very cool place and I’m fast running out of distractions from degree work.
I went to see Ann Veronica Janssens installation, entitled yellowbluepink. The installation is the beginning of the Wellcome Collection’s year long investigation into the experience of human consciousness, entitled States of Mind. This includes a new exhibition to follow in February 2016, exploring mental phenomena such as synesthesia, sleepwalking, memory loss and anesthesia, and will explore what can happen when conscious experience is interrupted, damaged or undermined.
Janssens explores light and colour and the way in which we perceive them. How does she do this? She fills a huge gallery with so much coloured mist, that you can’t really see anything else. With the colour caught in a state of suspension, it’s able to obscure any detail of surface or depth, forcing you to focus on the process of perception itself. It’s kind of like trying to see your way through a dark room, except much less scary, and much more fun. Whilst Janssens work is disorienting, it’s also strangely uplifting – the anonymity of wandering round a beautiful space is peaceful and warming.
That said, it is only mist. It’s an interesting idea, but it is limited. After the novelty wore off, and I started to bump into walls and other human beings, I grew a little- dare I say it- bored. The room is rather simple, modern and blank, and made me wonder whether Janssens installation could work better in somewhere a little more three-dimensional, with perhaps a few more twists and turns to the space. What she has created is exciting, but it could be more ambitious. It has run the risk of being a bit of a tourist trap, with queues lasting up to two and a half hours (I only got in on my third attempt), though it redeems itself in that it’s completely free. All in all, I’d recommend the exhibition, if only to Instagram some groovy pictures of yourself prancing around in some pink fog. And since it’s right next door, it’s easy to pop in.
Featured image credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images