Sanne De Wilde: The Island of the Color Blind
Photographer Sanne De Wilde’s fascinating journey to Pingelap, ‘The Island of the Colorblind’
In Pingelap and Pohnpei, islands in Micronesia, an extraordinarily high percentage of the inhabitants suffer from the rare genetic condition achromatopsia or ‘complete color-blindness’. In the late 18th century a catastrophic typhoon swept over Pingelap, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean. One of the survivors, the king, carried the achromatopsia-gen. The king went on to have many children and as time passed by, the hereditary condition affected the isolated community and the islanders started seeing the world in black and white. This phenomenon was first described by neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks.
Color is just a word to those who cannot see it. Portraying the mythical island and the achromatopic islanders – who are referred to as ‘blind’ by their fellow Micronesians – resulted in a selection of images that mask their eyes, their face, and empower their ‘vision’, inviting the viewer to enter a dreamful world of colorful possibilities.
Artist and photographer Sanne De Wilde (b. 1987) experimented with black and white and infrared photography, in a metaphorical attempt to envision how people with achromatopsia see the world. A third series within the project are the achromatic picture-paintings – De Wilde had asked members of the Dutch organisation for achromatopsia to paint in color on her black and white images (without knowing the colors of the paint they were using). Flames light up in black and white, trees turn pink, a thousand shades of grey, a rainbow revisited.
With a cover in UV-sensitive varnish: the color of it changes in sunlight!
The Island of the Color Blind
Sanne De Wilde
Oliver Sacks, Azu Nwagbogu
Softcover with flaps and UV-sensitive varnish
28 x 22,5 x 1,5 cm