DadaPost Gallery view 2010 (Foto:Reinder Wijnveld, Berlin)
DETAIL Shrine of the Divine Negress (Foto:Reinder Wijnveld, Berlin)
Shrine of the Divine Negress, Havana Bienniale installation (Foto:Adi Martis,NL)
DadaPost Gallery view 2010 (Foto:Reinder Wijnveld, Berlin)

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 –  a recurring inspiration for the artist whose “interests lie less with Josephine Baker, the person, but rather with Baker as an iconic symbol that allows for a collective imagining.”

The Shrine of the Divine Negress belongs to a series of works titled the “Goddess Constellations''. This particular piece, created initially for installation at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana at the 10th Havana Biennale, elevates Baker yet again. Surrounding her likeness are twelve  butterflies – perhaps emblematic of the twelve children she adopted during her lifetime.

It can also be interpreted as invoking a quote from Kofi Annan, in his address for the receipt of the nobel prize in 2001: “Scientists tell us that the world of nature is so small and interdependent that a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rainforest can generate a violent storm on the other side of the earth.”

Text: Mokia Laisin

2009 Installation at the Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabana in conjunction with the 10th Havana Biennale (re-installed at DadaPost Berlin in 2010) The original installation included a shroud with the image of Charlemagne Péralte, the martyred Haitian nationalist

Shrine of the Divine Negress Nr.1
The Goddess Project at Kunstraum Dada Post Berlin
Material & Format:

2009: Installation, PVC, acrylic paint, colored gels, textile ribbon, 400 x 275 cm.

  1. Video on Diary/Blog The Berlin installation of "Shrine of the Divine Negress Nr.1" at Dada Post
  2. Péralte (Charlemagne Péralte1886-1919) foto was used as the inspiration for a shroud in the original (10th Havana Biennale) installation of the  Shrine of the Divine Negress Nr.1
  3. Bomb magazine online discusses the term Negress (négresse) in an interview between H.Als and author and artist Coco Fusco refering to the complexities and contradictions of a term used in some Caribbean cultures with a sense of matriarchal empowerment, such as "belle négresse" implies in Haiti. The Bajan-American author and critic Hilton Al's illuminates the many facets of this term in his acclaimed book  The Women (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998).
  4.  Josephine Baker adopted 12 children from around the world. Her family was known as the Rainbow Tribe  
  5. "Haïti" sung by Josephine Baker on Diary/Blog of this website
  6. Essay" from The Scholar and Feminist Online Published by The Barnard Center for Research on Women entitled "The Use-Value of 'Josephine Baker"
  7. USA military occupation of Haiti from 1915-1935
  8. The dance movements which became associated with Josephine Baker who came to be called the Bronze Goddess


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.

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...

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...

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...



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

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.


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..

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...

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...

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. 


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

Voices from the Heart

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

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...

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...

Postcards From My Loves

NH2K / Billboards

Illuminated billboards digitally printed on textile...

The Passion

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

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..

The Burqa Project

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

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...


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



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


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)