OPENING 15.06.2023 19:00 With a DJ-Set by Boris
OPENING HOURS 16.06.–17.07.2023 Thursday–Sunday 14:00–19:00
Free Entry Donations welcome
ACCESS Our space is accessible by wheelchair
SAVVY TOURS IN SAVVY TONGUES
22.06.2023 18:00 In English With Mokia Laisin
29.06.2023 18:00 In German With Mokia Laisin
06.07.2023 18:00 In English With Hubert Gromny
09.07.2023 16:00 In Polish With Hubert Gromny
13.07.2023 16:00 In English With Kelly Krugman
16.07.2023 15:00 In English With the artist Jean-Ulrick Désert and the artistic director Renan Laru-an
Jean-Ulrick Désert is the inaugural recipient of Wi Di Mimba Wi :: The AKB & SAVVY Contemporary Commission Prize. Jean-Ulrick Désert’s body of work is impressive in its breadth and ingenuity. His decades-long work in Germany has made and shaped spaces for crucial questions and practices. We acknowledge his ongoing practice and body of work with this award and the show entitled CONSPICUOUS INVISIBILITY. WORKS 1997–2023:
This solo exhibition is one of the rare occasions that gather Jean-Ulrick Désert’s artistic and intellectual practice as it collides with his itineraries, biographies, and adventures in thought, feeling, and history. Charting a trajectory enlivened in diaspora and animated by the eros and pathos of race and ethnicity, the first monographic exhibition of Désert in Germany comprehends a structure of displacement, “unvisibility,” and shame in a selection of the artist’s creative output that he has produced since 1997. The show is abundantly delightful, confrontational, and almost shy – not all at once, but in a palpitating orchestration of storytelling and critique, humor and intelligence, or fabulation and investigation: as iridescent materials for making artistic positions visible. Désert calls it “conspicuous invisibility.”
CONSPICUOUS INVISIBILITY. WORKS 1997–2023 features “The Archive/ a work in progress,” a new interactive commission using augmented reality to access colonial artifacts from the West African collection of the Ethnologisches Museum in Dahlem. Criss-crossing the impulse for opacity and transparency, Désert gives form to a theory of permanence and the task of presencing contaminated objects among objects in today’s discursive industry – deliberating on the ethico-political impact of decolonization in museology, art and knowledge production, and culture at large. “The Archive/ a work in progress” annotates impressive commitments, such as restitution and abolition, through personal, incidental encounters with intoxicating experiences of gold, smiles, fetishes, stares, kinks, laughter, and other pleasures from recreation or even public entertainment. In all angles, without touch or pressure, the force in Désert’s archival exposure reassembles how colonial bodies could emerge from current constellations of judgment and analysis and invite scales of poetics and visuality.
Curated by Renan Laru-an together with Hubert Gromny and Mokia Laisin, the exhibition follows Désert in timelines that collapse the artist’s relationship with several vectors, overlapping passages: a beginning, the N-word, queer varieties, death/darkness. It is a sanctuary for the emotional, where viewers are immersed in an ecology of things and surfaces that Désert has drawn from his conceptions of the Black, archipelagic Caribbean. Expected taxonomies developed throughout modernity have been avoided to privilege relational configurations that bind the artist, the audience, and the artwork together. Works of art previously circulated in various art circuits find renewed vitality in juxtapositions and triangulations of their affective gravitas for the audience to be guided by an empathy in looking. Additional interventions from the holdings of SAVVY Contemporary’s growing library/documentation center and the ongoing Colonial Neighbors archive punctuate the exhibition space, to ease possible discomfort and to supplement viewers with related references. Every contact with aesthetic language, socio-historical condition, and moral content in the exhibition situates Desert’s concerns as contemporary public issues. For Désert who intuits the agency of ugly feelings, Conspicuous Invisibility chooses the indictment of dominant cultures through the tactic of imperceptible teases: to be the alluring, troubling, and flirtatious wink in difference.
JEAN-ULRICK DÉSERT is a Haitian born conceptual and visual artist based in Berlin, Germany. Désert’s artworks vary in form: public billboards, actions, paintings, site-specific sculptures, video and art objects. They emerge from a tradition of conceptual work engaged with social and cultural practices.
Well known for his provocative as well as poetic projects, he has exhibited widely at venues such as The Grand Palais in France, The Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum of Harlem and Walker Art Center in the USA, The Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej Bunkier Sztuki in Poland, The Haus der Kulturen der Welt, SAVVY Contemporary in Germany and in galleries and public venues in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ghent, Brussels, Dakar and Havana Biennials. He is the recipient of awards, public commissions, private philanthropy, including LMCC (USA) the Villa Waldberta-Munich, Kulturstiftung der Länder (Germany) and Cité des Arts (France). He received his bachelor and masters in architecture at the Cooper Union and Columbia University (New York) and has been an invited lecturer and critic at universities in the United States (Princeton, Yale, Columbia), Germany (Humboldt University in Berlin) and in France (at the École supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris). He previously advised and taught for Trans Art Institute (based in New York). Désert was selected by the Minister of Culture as the solo artist to represent the Haiti pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019) in Venice Italy.
ARTISTIC DIRECTION Renan Laru-an
CURATION Renan Laru-an with Hubert Gromny and Mokia Laisin
CURATORIAL ADVISORS Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Mirjami Schuppert
CURATORIAL RESEARCH Mokia Laisin
EXHIBITION DESIGN Hubert Gromny
PRODUCTION Hubert Gromny, Mokia Laisin
PROJECT COORDINATION AND MANAGEMENT Kelly Krugman
GENERAL MANAGEMENT Lema Sikod
COMMUNICATIONS Anna Jäger
COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANCE Christèle Baonga Alunga
GRAPHIC DESIGN Juan Pablo García Sossa
TRANSLATION Anna Jäger
S A V V Y . D O C Onur Çimen, Ingrid Jones
INTERNSHIP Sara Vallis, Ingrid Jones
XR TECH Elisabeth Thielen
ART HANDLING Waylon D'Mello, Santiago Doljanin, Ayham Kayal, Roberto Uribe Castro, Herman Abiyah, Nancy Naser Al Deen, Anna Fasolato, Nicolas Mastracchio
LIGHT DESIGN Emilio Cordero
TECH Bert Günter
COLLABORATION & FUNDING The project is generously supported by AKB Stiftung. The production of “The Archive/ a work in progress” was made possible through Stiftung Kunstfonds (NEUSTART KULTUR-Stipendium für bildende Künstler:innen)
SUPPORT With thanks to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Ethnologisches Museum, Fachreferat Afrika, in supporting the new work “The Archive/ a work in progress”.
A second part of this exhibition will be on view from 6.7.–6.8.2023 at Titatink Galerie in Turku, Finland, curated by Mirjami Schuppert.