The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, Lift-Archiv, Kreisverwaltungsreferat, Munich
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, SOX36 View
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, Tenement Museum
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, SOX36 View
STUDY, The Burqa Project (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council)  New York, Digital 3D modeling
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, Lift-Archiv, Kreisverwaltungsreferat, Munich
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, Lift-Archiv, Kreisverwaltungsreferat, Munich
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, Lift-Archiv, Kreisverwaltungsreferat, Munich
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, Brooklyn Museum gallery view
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, BRUCE Project Space, Rotterdam
The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost, Lift-Archiv, Kreisverwaltungsreferat, Munich

The Burqa Project

On The Borders Of My Dreams I Encountered My Double's Ghost

The Burqa Project: On the Borders of My Dreams I encountered My Double's Ghost was created several months after the New York City attacks of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Four flags from four leading industrial nations, The United States of America, The United Kingdom/Great Britain, France, Germany, are used as the basis for replicating the Afghanistan hijab known as The Burqa (also spelled Burka). 

This project was chosen to inaugurate the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's Points of Entry Public Art Series at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum on the occasion of the first year anniversary of the September-11-2001 New York attacks. Based on the controversial nature of this work and the sensitivities regarding the tragic event that inspired their making, there has subsequently been a commentary-board made available for visitors/viewers to voice their interpretations and reflections for this work.

Controversy did erupt over the display of this artwork in the windows of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and a petition against the artist and museum along with threat to picket which was eventually averted. The artist met with the organizers to discuss their claims and negotiated the shrouding of the artworks on 11 September 2002 for 24hours in deference to museum board members whose family members had perished in the World Trade Center disaster.   The head-quarter offices of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council LMCC, the sponsors of this Public-art series were destroyed in the World Trade Towers attacks of 11 September 2001.   The artist was living in residence at the Cité International des Arts in Paris France during the tragedy of the September 11 attacks. He returned to New York in October/November of that year and relocated his studio practice to Berlin Germany where this work were fabricated.

Public comments:
“My initial response: This is clever. The artist is thinking about making us think hard.
My thoughts/feelings- the more I thought, the greater my confusion, since I don’t truly know what a Burqa is or means… (ie:flags) of 4 different countries gives so many different meanings simultaneously. The artist wants us to think about a culture we don’t understand.”
“Very interesting and loved the different flags.” “Restless, Invokes a feeling of despair.” “Women, religion, imposition. Makes me thing [sic] that the person who wears it doesn’t count because no image is available. Inspired by the recent insight into the Arab/Muslim culture. To provoke a reaction by using conventional flags as the material for a very controversial cloth.” “Meant to be inflammatory. That western powers want to take over eastern lifestyles-or-that somehow these cultures do not mix to our minds. Or that western society is not as gender-equal as we like to believe. Commenting on culture clashes. Wanting to bring attention to the differences and similarities of cultures.”
“When I first saw it I didn’t know what to make of it. I’m not a modern or abstract art fan. however, my initial response was that I liked it. It makes me think of hate and repression. I think the artist is leaving the question up to us. It appears it took a familiar image and messed with it for effect.”
“Overpowering. I think about how cultural identity can be manipulated and used. Calling into question the absolute, certain way that people have talked about culture and politics since 9/11 and forcing us to acknowledge the complexity of the new political realities we face.”
“Striking-colors, forms. Of the West’s sticky fingers. I think he is mixing symbols to instigate thought and discussion. I doubt he has a definitive statement he wanted to make. Certainly he has his own feelings/reaction/understanding But I got the impression that he wanted each individual to make their own meaning” Provocative. Great way to address culpability interconnectedness actions in the past/assigning and imposing cultures and values. Choosing to have his work displayed in a storefront, on the street-scape is ‘in your face’-might want to catch people off guard- Has the opportunity to provoke ‘RAW’ reaction and then force viewer to think more and consider current events differently?”
“Forced me to confront something difficult, to take responsibility for something difficult. Makes me think about connection between ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘east’ and ‘west’

Public commentary from the  Brooklyn Museum of Art (Link currently unavailable)

Various notes on the Burka or Burqa from wikipedia (Link currently unavailable)

The larger classification of the Hijab from wikipedia (Link currently unavailable)


WORKS 1997–2023

Jean-Ulrick Désert is the inaugural recipient of Wi Di Mimba Wi :: The AKB & SAVVY Contemporary Commission Prize. 

Silence Will Not Protect You

Originally commissioned for Volume IV of Unfinished Histories at the Klosterruine in Berlin–Mitte, curated by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung. The initial floor installation consisted of 33 fine grain concrete birds laid to rest upon concrete/beton blocks...

Terra Nova Afrikæ 新非洲

Commissioned for the exhibition THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE by Savvy Contemporary (Berlin)...

Neque mittatis margaritas vestras ante porcos

do not cast pearls before swine

In this work, Désert teases the above mentioned excerpt from Matthew 7:6 and renders it in the form of festoons draped across the room. The texts, exhibited in Kreyol, Papiamento, Spanish, Sranan Tongo, and Patois, sit underneath balloons which characterise the pearls we are warned of wasting on undeserving recipients.

ABC's of my Private Life

L’ABCdaire de ma vie privée

In four pages, Jean-Ulrick Désert revisits the four places that shaped his personal experience: Port-au-Prince, Brooklyn, Paris, and Berlin...

Tante Cilet

How Nannite became Aunt Cilet (2015)

The shared phenomena of archiving and recycling photographic memories through family albums remains a critical point of cohesion for the Haitian diaspora...

Belgian Soliloquy

Belgian Soliloquy was developed for the Special Art-Project space PLATFORM 102 In Brussels (Belgium)...

Amour Colère Folie

(Love Anger Madness )- A Temporary Monument to Resistance

A temporary monument to resistance...


The Goddess Temple

An imaginary "ruin" of Josephine Baker's unconstructed Parisian villa of 1928 (by Adolf Loos)...


(I am very much in love w/u)

The Latin term Secretum is used to express the idea of a contained or jarred secret...

Sky Above Port-au-Prince

Haiti 12 January 2010 21:53 UTC

This artwork reflects the view of the sky above Haiti during the officially recorded time of the 2010 Earthquake.



BlackOut was first created and installed for 3 days in a public square (Richard-Platz, Berlin-Neukölln) in the summer of 2012.


The Goddess Constellations

 A 3-dimensional map of the sky above Paris (48°51N2°21E) marking the hour (5AM) of Josephine Baker's *death on the 12th of April 1975..

Shrine of The Divine Negress No.1

The Goddess Project

Désert’s take on the image of the Black Madonna and the Divine Feminine is expressed with a motif of Josephine Baker...

White Lessons

a series of different art-projects on the theme of Whiteness as a lecture presented at Making Mirrors Conference at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst...

Good Morning Prussia

Good Morning Prussia (Guten Morgen Preussen) is a series of handmade cyanotype photographs. It is the story of a “little Nubian boy”, August Sabac el Cher, who was given as a "gift" to a German noble due to his musical talents. 

Divine Negress Butterfly Fans

The Goddess Project

1000 hand-fans distributed to the public with the quotation: "A butterfly flapping its wings...can generate a violent storm"-Kofi Annan...


Paint-by-number Trophies (2009) 

The statement 'you can be whoever you want to be...Prime-Minister/President, Secretary General, even an Artist'
- often goes unexamined...

Voices from the Heart

Urban Grafitti is carefully documented and transcribed onto Gingerbread-cookies...


Works on paper (mixed media and collage) created for the exhibition entitled Demokratie und Gewalt...

The Travel Albums


A diary of imaginary postcards with incidental notes recounting the project's journeys and strolls in texts and images collected from the public...

The Passion

The artist focuses on football (soccer) fan-culture eccentricities, typified by extravagant fanaticism and the hooligan subculture..

Postcards From My Loves

NH2K / Billboards

Illuminated billboards digitally printed on textile...

Codex Testimoniorum Amoris

The Book of the Witnesses of Love

-or- The Collected Accounts of the Emptoris Depicting their Experiences with the Scortæ de Genus Masculus of Landeshaupstadt München including Many Depictions of the Latter Compiled & Annotated for the Moral Education of the Good

Toiles de Jouy

All projects of the Haitian-American artist Jean-Ulrick Désert tackle the visualization of abstract ideas, such as the complex relations between private and political space...

The Science of Beauty

The works of The Science of Beauty consists of a series of newly imagined school-charts using transgendered and intersexed bodies from the beauty of nature.

Métamorphoses Sublimes

A video(loop) projection presented in Istanbul (Turkey) of a Belgian woman demonstrating How to construct and wear a modesty Muslim-veil fashionable among the Turkish minority in Germany. 

Jn.Ulrick Désert

Jn.Ulrick Désert

Désert's first German solo-retrospective exhibition entitled and simply abbreviated as Jn.Ulrick Désert presented at the Wolfsburg Castle (Schloßwolfsburg)) by Kunstverein-wolfsburg

Die Hosen 'runter lassen

The Haitian-American artist creatively reacts to Robert Mappelthorpes seminal and highly controversial black & white photograph Man in a Polyester Suit...

Suicidal Meditations

Photo and video-based project..



A beer coaster created to be distributed and used in public and private venues...


Surrender comprises of two artworks, originally available as low edition multiples, La Main (The Hand) and Le Chapelet (The Rosary) ...


The artist in German Lederhosen constructed of leather resembling caucasian skin and blond hair, was initially deployed as an art-action in multiple European cities...

The Hip Decadence of Reductive Glamour

The artist, wearing a light tone foundation make-up as a Caucasian hipster, takes a series of self-portraits using a public photo-booth at the Paris Opera House Metro.

Tea Celine

Thé Céline

Glazed Porcelain with blue over-glazed texts (Louis-Ferdinand Céline citations in consultation with French literature scholar Prof.Thomas C. Spear, CUNY)