The Island of the Colorblind

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 rare achromatopsia-gen that causes complete colorblindness. 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. Portraying the islanders (who by their fellow Micronesians are referred to as »blind«) and their island resulted in a conceptual selection of images that mask or emphasize the eyes, face, or their »vision« and invite the viewer to enter a dreamful world of colorful possibilities.

The Island of the Colorblind consists of »normal« digital images converted to black and white and infrared images. A third series within the project are the achromatic picture-paintings – the artist had asked achromats in the Netherlands to paint color back into the black and white images. Flames light up in black and white, trees turn pink, a thousand shades of grey, a rainbow revisited.

Sanne de Wilde was the receipient of the 2016 Firecracker Photographic Grant, which was used to support the completion of ‘The Island of the Colorblind’. We are excited to help de Wilde in presenting the exhibition as part of Voies Off festival, Arles, France and the book, published by Kehrer Verlag.

the island of the color blind

The Book
The Exhibition

Sanne De Wilde

Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde was born in Antwerp (Belgium) on the 15th of april 1987. She graduated as Master of Fine Arts, Photography at KASK (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in Ghent with great honours, June 2012. Her project ‘The Dwarf Empire’ was awarded two Photo Academy Awards in 2012 and the International Photography Award Emergentes DST in 2013. Her serie ‘Samoa Kekea’ was awarded the Nikon Press Award 2014 for most promising young photographer. ‘Snow White’ received the Nuwork Award for Photographic Excellence. The British Journal of Photography selected De Wilde as one of ‘the best emerging talents from around the world’ in 2014. Since 2013 De Wilde is working for ‘De Volkskrant’ in Amsterdam, Netherlands.