Jean-Ulrick Désert AR’85

Running for: Council

Campaign Statement

From my European perch as part of the Cooper Union “diaspora” abroad, I believe I may be of value here in Berlin, one of the largest concentrations of artists (domestic and foreign) of all western Europe. I found myself here accidentally in 2002 after several years in Paris where there are also Cooper Union alumni. My Cooper Union life experience has formed much of my outlook for the high standards demanded in creative citizenship that need never remain in New York let alone stateside.

I won’t offer a philosophical manifest for my candidature as part of the Alumni committee because i believe we are and have been in an era of ever changing situations and flexibility and reinvention remains the primary tool for excellence to prevail. This is not to say that i am neutral nor without politics, the absences of my Cooper Union life attest to a later found fortitude for being present and representing with intention.

My time at Cooper in mid 80s was spent assisting as a mentor in the CU Saturday Program as well as connecting to the then vibrant and new East Village artistic scene in conjunction with my time and efforts in the art and architecture school as well. I know that there have been critical issues and debate in recent years that in fact require philosophical positioning of the institution, its mission and its legacies .We as the alumni and its current student body are important parts of that legacy and must invent diverse tactics to foster its sustainability.

Perhaps one of the lessons of this pandemic year has been how we circumvent obstacles to communication and productivity to forge forward. With the new digital means at our fingertips and our new found agility I believe that a presence from this German outpost may be of value for the Cooper Union communities.


Jean-Ulrick Désert is a Cooper Union architect working as a visual artist and educator in Berlin Germany.  He is part of the New York and Caribbean diaspora and LGBT communities. He is on the board of The Watch (Turm) Art residency in Berlin, volunteers to local LGBT groups and is an artist member of the esteemed NGBK Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst and recently awarded the Falkenrot Prize 2021.

He has exhibited at The Havana Biennial CU, The Grand Palais FR, The Brooklyn Museum USA, Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej Bunkier Sztuki PL, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Savvy Contemporary DE, DakArt Biennial SN and selected to represent his birthplace of Haiti at the 58th Venice Biennale IT.

Désert creates drawings, billboards, performance/actions, paintings, sculptures, videos and art objects. 

Désert’s work emerges from a tradition of conceptual art engaged with social/cultural practices exploring overlapping  themes in contemporary political and artistic discussions. Désert is currently working on a permanent commemorative installation for Humboldt University in honor of the American scholar W.E.B. DuBois who pursued his PhD work at the Berlin University in 1896.

He is known for his provocative and poetic projects