AA/BF 2011 – Publishers – Onomatopee

Ellen Zoete

Manystuff: Could you please present yourself and your activities?

Ellen Zoete: Onomatopee is an institution for reflection and communication. The foundation aims to question the parameters of our (designed) culture through research and presentations.

‘Design as cultural feasibility’ – The parameters of our (visual) culture are set within a normative, global stage. They are the result of an exchange between developing specialists and a public of users. Whenever we create and innovate, we act as moral agents within these parameters.

Mediation – ??Onomatopee actualises both expert involvement via research projects and exhibitions tailored to a broad audience. Onomatopee has a worldwide distribution of its publications and attracts 15,000 to 20,000 visitors every year.? On the front side being a public institution, Onomatopee spotlights current cultural issues by mediating between progressive tendencies and inflexible conventions. Being a research centre on the backside, Onomatopee reflects, discusses and experiments with and within the professional practices.

Perspective and experience?? – As an independent institution, Onomatopee nourishes the integrity of our culture through thorough reflection and stimulating (re)form. Onomatopee stimulates individual opinions and cultural discourse; offers incentives to both individuals and the industry.

Platform – ??Onomatopee welcomes the initiative of cultural producers: designers, curators and theorists, people who think and act. Concerning both content and production Onomatopee enjoys being a host for great ideas and to offer a platform through mediation.

Onomatopee always combines exhibitions with publications

Manystuff: What do you think is the role of an independent publishing house? Do you feel having responsibilities and a duty? Is the act of publishing a kind of activism and what for? What about your environment you are part of, how do you identify it?

Ellen Zoete: Being an independent publishing house often means you’re working for free and don’t have the means to release big, fancy books. You’re either producing for reasons of lifestyle or out of cultural engagement.
Onomatopee is an institution, a non-profit foundation, that targets to debate the parameters of (designed) culture. Onomatopee releases projects that combine the experience of the exhibit’s live experience with the publication’s opportunities to distribute sense via sensibility.
Each project targets to increase visual emancipation, bottom-up participation to the public sphere and/or stimulate critical thinking with and within the professional field of cultural production.

Manystuff: Some says that “Print is dead”. What resources and new kind of artistic relationships are in contradiction with that point of view? Is the increased complicity between “curator/author/graphic designer/printer/publisher/distributor” the proof of the contrary?

Ellen Zoete: Print is one medium of many able to distribute and communicate. It’s not dead as long as wordfiles feature pages (technically), as long as there are channels to distribute and an audience to reach out to (no matter what the message might be).

Manystuff: Could you mention one book/publication, or publishing actor, or artist, or graphic designer, or printer, or exhibition, etc… that made you work in the field of independent publishing area? What inspired you?  

als jij een boek hebt: zeg maar…
Freek (Freek Lomme) likes to make notes, comments and keeps references in theoretical books as it serves as a personal Wikipedia.

Manystuff: Could you please introduce one of your upcoming project you are now working on?

We are currently working on our second series NEST, this year themed ‘Comfort Zone & Disillusion’, that highlights subversive practices that play upon experience economy’s logistics. It highlights 4 young and talented artists / designers via a solo exhibition and a publication, most likely to be assembled in a group show in London and rich box with all editions. The publications comprise imagery of the exhibition and, where applicable, work from the artist’s archive as well as a rigorous discussion of their work by various writers, offering insight into its sphere and it’s worth. It also offers these designers/artists a possibility to reflect upon and consider their work indepth. The publications will be designed by RAWcolor (Cristoph Brach and Daniera ter Haar): a young graphic design company from Eindhoven. Their design of last year’s Nest series won the prize of Best Designed Book (The Netherlands) in the category ‘series’.


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