Hot Links artistic interviews with Brian Fee.

Hot Links 01: Jean Ulrick Désert

Our first guest is Jean Ulrick Désert. Désert represents Haiti at the 58th Venice Biennale, and he will participate in the inaugural Caribbean Art Salon Talks in Venice as well.

– Tell us about yourself?
I am a Haitian-born visual artist living and working out of Berlin, Germany. I have also worked and lived in Paris and New York. Though I have a formation as an architect, I have been engaged in my art practice since the early-mid ‘90s to understand my voice and its tone.

I am often interested in things/subjects/moments that are not sufficiently part of our conversation, or to visualize ideas that seem pervasively invisible. I believe in poetry as one believes in a surgeon, and the subsequent responsibility on our shoulders as cultural workers.

What is your project or role with the Caribbean Art Initiative?
I am collaborating with the Caribbean Art Initiative (CAI) as our partner in the démarches required to realize a Haitian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale – with the theme of The Spectacle of Tragedy. As a side effort, I am participating in the Caribbean Art Salon, which will take place at the Navy Officers Club adjacent to our aspirational space. CAI will underwrite the reissue of a coaster conceived in 2004 as well as a bag project intended for the Venice Biennale and Art Basel.

What does “cultural exchange” mean to you?
Cultural exchange is about profound and poetic communication and therefore is an expansive act. It finds its strongest mode in the arts, which speaks to more than the mind.

What is one unique perspective or element about the Caribbean that you would like the global community to know better?
There is a cultural spine that emerges from a history of colonialism and conflict and passed-on traditions in the light, the sunlight, of the Caribbean tropics. That mixture produces many Creole cultures who are echoes of each other – a theme of many variations.

And finally, describe something – a food, a place, a feeling – that is “hot” to you.
For food, Haitian Griot and banan-pézé. For a place, (old) Havana. And as a feeling, clarity born of intuition or sunlight.

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