Since the late 1970s, Ann Veronica Janssens (Folkestone, UK, 1956; lives and works in Brussels) has developed her research around light and its relationship to what surrounds it, often creating site-specific works that challenge the immutable nature of sculpture and installation. Janssens has built her practice on overcoming the art object through its dematerialization and deconstruction. Through minimal forms and gestures that have an anti-monumental quality, Janssens is actually able to change the public’s perception of space. With their use of light, color, mirrors, air or artificial fog, the works of Janssens call for the direct participation of viewers, inviting them to experience reality differently, to develop an awareness of their senses, of the architecture and spatial-temporal categories by which we define it, emphasizing its sociopolitical and cultural aspects. Often based on experiments carried out in collaboration with scientists, the artist’s works become labs for testing the boundaries between properties and physical-material elements that are regarded as opposites, such as light and darkness, sound and silence, emptiness and presence, the tangible and the incorporeal.
“Grand Bal” explores the career of Ann Veronica Janssens as well as different aspects of her practice. Presenting the most comprehensive selection of her works to date, it includes both historical projects and new productions designed to interact with the space of the Navate within Pirelli HangarBicocca and the outdoor area, expanding its boundaries. The resulting alterations fit dynamically within the exhibition plan, conceived by the artist as a visual and sound choreography that centers not so much on objects as on visitors: they are called upon to move and participate directly, following the train of sensations and perceptions generated while experiencing the works.
The title “Grand Bal” (grand ball in French) evokes precisely this performative dimension, and the dynamic relationship that is established between works, architecture and the human body as in a dance, where each and every element is necessary for the other to reveal itself completely.
Ann Veronica Janssens’ work has been featured in solo exhibitions at institutions of international importance, including Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Humlebæk and South London Gallery (2020); Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris (2019); Baltimore Museum of Art, De Pont, Tilburg, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2018); IAC – Institut d’art contemporain – Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes (2017); Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2016); Wellcome Collection, London (2015); Ausstellungshalle Zeitgenössiche Kunst, Münster, CRAC Alsace – centre rhénan d’art contemporain, Altkirch (2011); WIELS, Brussels, Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castellò, Castellón (2009); Museum Mosbroich, Leverkusen (2007); Kunsthalle Bern, Bern, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, CCAC Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2003); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2001).
The artist has participated in major international exhibitions—including Sharjah Biennial 14 (2019); Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg (2014); Biennale of Sydney (1998 and 2012); Biennale de Lyon (2005); and Bienal de São Paulo (1994)—as well as group exhibitions in institutions such as Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; SMAK, Ghent; Grand Palais, Paris; Punta della Dogana, Venice (2019); Hayward Gallery, London (2018); Mudam, Luxembourg, Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Buenos Aires (2015); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014); Fundació Juan Miró, Barcelona (2013).
In 1999 she represented Belgium (with Michel François) at the 48th Venice Biennale.