Jacques de Koning

I Could Live in Africa, 1983, video

📍 Venue → Hospital

“I can live here, I can live in Africa.” The words of a young member of the reggae-punk band Izrael express the rage felt against the institution of an oppressive state which in mid-eighties Poland was more tangible than anywhere else. The short documentary made by a Dutch director visiting Warsaw in 1983 depicts a depressive place terrorized by martial law and censorship. On the margins of the late socialist regime, we can find a silver lining in the words of young punks expressing a freedom of speech and creation fueled by ganja smoke and anarchist slogans shouted a bit too loud into the camera. “Total destruction, the only solution,” sung by the band after Bob Marley’s song “Real Situation.” These words would gain agency less than a decade later, when the fall of the communist regime would be followed by a turbo capitalistic catching-up revolution. Poland would formally become part of the democratic world, and the African continent would remain as far away as ever.

Jacques de Koning (*1958) graduated from the Dutch Film and TV Academy in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1985. He also attended courses in directing at the Amsterdam Theaterschool and scriptwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. During his studies, he shot two documentaries in Warsaw, Poland, during the martial law period when the Solidarnosć movement was overthrowing the communist system. These films, I Could Live in Africa and Punk in Polen, were later exhibited in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Georgia, and China. They are now part of the collections of the Museum for Modern Art in Warsaw, Poland, the Ursula Bickle Stiftung in Stuttgart, Germany, Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and the Dutch Cultural House in Beijing, China. De Koning started his own production company which produces music videos, documentaries, and commercials. He has directed for the Italian television channel RAI UNO, and he has directed and produced numerous documentaries for Dutch television (IKON, NCRV, RTL4, TROS, AVRO). In recent years he shot two documentaries on the healing process of war veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome and the rehabilitation of invalid veterans. Most recently he directed the first internet TV marathon for the Dutch Ministry of Health to recruit organ donors.

Installation view (c) Jonáš Verešpej