222cm X 222cm (9 panels) Ink, Wax on velumn papers. 2016
Commissioned for the exhibition THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE by Savvy Contemporary (Berlin) director Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and co-director Dr. Elena Agudio, Désert creates a work resembling a map. The artist delineates the African continent, partitioned as it were, into nine mixed-media panels oriented as if viewed from China from the east . Reminiscent of the ubiquitous moon gate of expansive fortune the soft blue patterns of the oceans circumscribe the many landscapes, its rivers and mountains and peoples of this antiquarian styled map. The artist presents this work as a large non-graspable talisman in which various traditions are subtly at play such as the six cascading magic-incantations of daoist mysticism and sorcery or the disruption of magic through the mechanism of fragmenting patterns as witnessed in Kuba kingdom. Artistic strategies are deployed, such as the vellum's visual iridescence, to exploit inter-sectionality where it may occur in cultural practices of magic such as the mirrored eyes of the Nkisi Nkondi (Congo) and octagonal bagua fengshui mirrors (China). The entirety of the map, like a fragile paper-mirror, may function as a spiritual gate. Jean-Ulrick Désert's works often re-present the familiar and therefore cartography carries with it a long tradition to reveal or conceal, to liberate or repress pending what it chooses to make visible or render invisible.