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15.03. – 28.04.2019

Unfinished Histories Vol. IV

Jean-Ulrick Désert

Finissage with reading: 28.04.2019

Unfinished Histories Vol. IV - Jean-Ulrick Désert
curated by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung

History is a language rendered into narratives; it inevitably establishes and upholds power relations. And yet, the debates over the historic center of Berlin illustrate how history has an actively unfinished relationship to the present. The exhibition series »Unfinished Histories« explores the relationship between history and poetry, in one of Berlin‘s oldest architectural monuments. What potential does poetry create for us with its ability to undermine the rules of language and to give form to its actual contingency? Vol. IV of the multi-part exhibition project continues with the Berlin based visual-artist Jean-Ulrick Désert.

For »Unfinished Histories Vol. IV« curator Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung has invited Jean-Ulrick Désert (b.1960 Haiti) who has chosen the famous dictum of the late poet Audre Lorde (1934–1992) »YOUR SILENCE WILL NOT PROTECT YOU« because of its relevance today.
The American poet, of Caribbean heritage, was a significant figure in the Berlin academic scene of the 1980s at Freie Universität which served to awaken the dormant afro-deutsche movement ending prematurely with her death in 1992 as documented in the film »Audre Lorde - The Berlin Years« by Dr. Dagmar Schultz.
Jean-Ulrick Désert’s artistic intervention at the Ruine der Franziskaner Klosterkirche highlights Audre Lorde’s imperative text »YOUR SILENCE WILL NOT PROTECT YOU« in various language translations, including the artists’s native Haitian kreyol/creole, in recognition of Berlin’s growing metropolitanism of many voices.
Jean-Ulrick Désert deploys discrete concrete sculptures of dead canaries throughout the grounds of the gothic ruins as a subtle symbolic articulation of local and global crisis.
The symbolism of birds span many cultures and have been used logistically as a premonitory sign of danger. Aside from it’s juxtaposition with Lorde, Désert’s poetically petrified canaries also offer potential meaning in the context of a site where alchemy and magic was once practiced.
An evening of readings is envisioned in conjunction with this installation with texts from Audre Lorde as well as inspired her work in Berlin and the inferences suggested by Déserts installation.

Exhibition Installation: Alexander Beurs, Carolina Redondo, Andreas Schöne