Jacqueline de Jong

"Situationists are self-declared!"
Interview & Portrait by Asher Penn


"Critique on the Political Practise of Detournement", Jacqueline de Jong, Situationist Times #1, 1962

How long did it take for you to put together the first issue? 
Not very long. I was no expert in making magazines—that is why I was so happy and lucky that Noël Arnoud agreed to be my co-editor for the first two issues. To print the issues I went from Paris to Holland to the printer and we made it as cheaply as possible. The first issue was published in May 1962. In August of that year the second issue appeared. 
How did you distribute them? 
There were several international bookshops. I used the distributors of the International Situationist. It was rather easy because I knew most of the bookshops in Paris. And there was Gruppe Spur’s network.
You had international distribution from the first issue?
We made a thousand copies of the first issue, which quickly sold out.
How did you see how the magazine changed and grew during its five-year run?
Well, the subjects changed and consequently so did the content. Jorn’s topological research and his book La Roue de la Fortune of 1957 helped me to realize numbers 3, 4, 5 of The Situationist Times.
What was his book?

In a way it was the start of his later (1962-1967) books on 10,000 Years of Comparative Vandalism. In La Roue de la Fortunethere were many images on the pages, and he wrote theoretical texts. The images didn't always correspond with the text, and I liked that very much. Juxtaposing and putting items side by side without any theory behind it. I found that very important. Just let people look at it and have their own imagination with no interfering theories and dogmas. 

Jacqueline de Jong, Libraire La Hune, 1967

Throughout this entire time you were doing the magazine, you were also painting?
Of course. I had to earn money.
Painting was an easier way to make money?
No, that was sheer luck. In 1962, I had my first exhibitions in galleries in Rotterdam and in Denmark—the last one sold out of my works. 
Twenty-three is really young for an artist to be showing, even today. 
Might be. The second gallery gave me a contract for three years. So I could sort of afford to make the magazine.
It sounds like a nice balance.
It was. In the mornings I worked on The Situationist Times, then started painting, and finally at the end of the afternoon or around 7:00 pm I had a beer in the café on the corner and dinner later on. The beer meant that I saw people. That was my day. You have got to be disciplined. 
Why did you stop doing the magazine?
Because the money was gone. With no. 6, I hoped, that I was going to make money for no. 7 , the wheel issue , which was never realized The distributor kept all the money. I had to pay the bookbinder, which I couldn't afford. It was at the end of 1969, my relationship with Jorn started deteriorating because I fell in love with someone else, which meant that I didn’t want to ask Jorn for financial support.
Your early paintings have these really distinct titles: Night Animals, Dooms Day, Playboy, Why Don’t We do it Like That, Suicide Carnivalesque. Mr. Homme attacking Mr. Mutant...
Titles are important to me. You know John Chamberlain? Have you ever looked at his titles? No one does. 
No, are they good? 
Look at them and you’ll understand what I mean. Jorn always had fantastic titles. I think titles are of great importantance to a work of art. It’s not interpretation, but it gives a “surplus”.

Quasimodo & King Kong, Scree Print, 1981

Your earliest paintings are really suprising in how much sex and violence is suggested.
It’s still like that. It’s this mixture of violence and eroticism. There’s no explanation, I think it’s a very important aspect in art. You can see it by so many artists: Bacon, Goya and so on... 
They’re really confrontational. 
That’s probably why I was not accepted into the last century's feminist exhibitions. Because there are too many cocks? Feminists threw a rock through a gallery window in Amsterdam because of my work in the window.
What was the piece they didn’t like?
Quasi Modo and Queen Kong. A big Silkscreen.
Your early work drew a lot of comparsion to Asger Jorn. On an aesthetic level I see it, but your paintings are still distinctly your own. 
Evidently. He was also my “tutor”. I tell students that drawing can be a signature—it’s like signing, like writing. It’s important that you get this sort of thing under your skin. You discover your voice by constantly workingI think that’s essential. And through working you get your own style, your own idiom.
I read that you did two to three shows a year between 1968 or 1969 and 1980. That’s prolific. 
Not only the years you mention. Look at my CV, that’s my usual work and exhibition rhythm. I don't believe in waiting for inspiration. It just comes out of the material, out of necessity. 
How long have you been doing the Pommes de Jong? 
I was asked to make jewelry for a great French collector of artists’ jewelry. I thought I could make something out of potatoes. I had been using potatoes in some museum shows. I phoned several jewelers: “Could you please make my potatoes into gold.” They all said no, but one said “I’ll find a way. I’ll help you.” That’s how it started. 
Why potatoes? 
They get so mysterious when they are waiting to be eaten, and grow sprouts and become dry. They are sort of little sculptures with all their sprouts and interesting shapes. And each is different. Unique
You grow them yourself. 
Yes, that’s part of the pleasure. 

Pomme de Jong, 2011

From Sex Magazine #2 Winter 2012
Labelled Art