Onomatopee Projects, started by Freek Lomme and Remco van Bladel, is hard to define. The duo – a curator and writer and graphic designer respectively – started the project in May of 2006 as they wanted to “step up for progressive culture, as well as engage smart and interesting people” within their community in Eindhoven. Now, 12 years later, Onomatopee has developed into a large operation encompassing exhibitions, a design practice, publishing, gigs, readings, performances and “whatever else, such as a travel agency or a nail salon”.
With an ever-growing team, Onomatopee’s focus is on producing “public programmes” featuring an exhibition and an accompanying publication, of which they create between 15–25 per year. The exhibitions allow Onomatopee to engage with talent it finds exciting, while the publications allow it to share that talent with a much wider audience.
Nowadays, Onomatopee works with a variety of graphic designers on a project-to-project basis to release books which are both critically engaging and experimental in their production. Below are five highlights from the project’s impressive output, ranging from publications with lenticular covers to erotic chair fiction.
Sense & Sensibility
Onomatopee Projects: It’s because feminism has become a fashionable commodity now, that we’re in desperate need of a more inclusive and varied reflection on contemporary girlhood, gender equality struggles, and the relationship between gender, politics and philosophy.
This book documents the exhibitions and thought processes of six engaging artists and designers regarding the theme, and features a collection of essays by artists and academics, writers and rioters, curators and journalists.
The Ghost of Weaving
OP: The textures of our culture are reflected within the patterns we produce. Sometimes the surface that hosts the pattern is more slippery than imagined, or the pattern appears to have been too unstable in the first place. As the ruler is held exclusively in the hands of humankind, why then is the pattern so tempting and why do we give into it time and time again? Furthermore, as productive mastery is channelled through ever more abstract processes, digital tools and semi-finished particles, don’t we lose touch with the fundamentals of the pattern produced?
In parallel with an array of visual poetry by various handcraft masters dealing with the imaginative fabric of patterns and surface, we speculate upon the phenomenon of the visual pattern as an identifier through the thoughts of Onomatopee’s Freek Lomme. Inspired by the works of various artists who have fascinated him for years now, he wants to re-imagine our capacity to understand the dichotomous life between the pattern as an immanent yet hidden cultural motive, and the pattern as texture; which through transcendence, we can actually reach out for. We only hope he’s chasing something he can hold on to within this spectral subject.
This project concerns the visual poetry that is released within the woven patterns’ ambivalence between fixation by rule and the dynamics of life; on the fracture of materialistic realism and the limits of the power we hold in our hands.
Alien Invader Super Baby, Syncromaterialism (VI)
OP: One thing will always lead to another. Artist Jim Ricks’s synchronic sequence of images or objects rests on opportunities to visually connect politics and/or aesthetics and/or history and/or philosophy from one to another. As a formal quest, this fundamental impirical and practice-based research within the ranges of our visual culture conceptually triggers actual cultural migration and identification.
In his Synchromaterialist series, Ricks visually reveals the inevitability of migration and of the inherent viral state of nature, and the nature of existence – what is inherently human – through the perception and reorganisation of the everyday.
He takes over the book format – following on from the exhibition methodology – to drop the unexpected organics of the Synchromaterialistic. This book reaches and branches out to be all forms a book can be. It includes a number of collaborations, and footnotes as inserts and explorations in print – sticker, newspaper, leaflet, cookbook, colouring book, bookmark, and a book within the book with a text by art and design critic Max Bruinsma, describing the Synchromaterialist approach.
Can You Feel It? Effectuating Tactility and Print in the Contemproary
OP: What exactly is the tactile, in a world in which a rising technocracy exploits the designed environment we feel? Who authorises and who writes, what tradition do we stand in and how can we touch base?
After endlessly hearing that Onomatopee publications have a materiality and tactility not often experienced in recent years, Onomatopee director and curator Freek Lomme decided to create an exhibition and publication addressing the issue of tactility and print today, accommodated by the Frans Masereel Centre and Z33. Presenting artists in the practice of making and thinkers in the development of thought here and now, we connect to tactile characteristics, guided by a specific focus on graphic, printed matter.
The lasting result is a palm-sized book jam-packed with information and ideas on the subject. Six contemporary artists and eight international academics and authors in the field of graphic design, materiality, theory and art explore how, in the digital age, our daily interaction with physical materials is greatly altered and how this affects us as humans.
The Chair Affair
OP: The sexual emancipation of chairs is promoted by a series of photos of chairs in Kama Sutra positions and some short erotic fiction.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.