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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

I have the feeling that you had a big influence on the book, also in the design, how was your balance between you and Arthur Roeloffzen the graphic designer?

Years ago I saw an old American child book with a hole in it and I thought I really want to make a book with a hole in it as well. So it was already stuck in my head for a while, but the subject wasn’t clear yet. I knew that it had to be a thick book, so that the hole would be very deep in contrast to the child book. So I started to make a lot of drawings with the design of the hole in my head. The publisher introduced me to Arthur Roeloffzen, and we started to talk. There was also another book that I’m really fond of, it’s called Dreams from Jim Shaw it’s a very solid book and nice to hold, so I showed it to Arthur Roeloffzen and told him that this had to be the feeling of the book. Further the colours of the drawings were already kind of fixed, because I work most of the time in these colours. We had very interesting discussions about where the hole had to begin, that was something I didn’t really thought of before. So there was a lot already decided before Arthur Roeloffzen started designing. Even the one euro cent on the cover of the book was already thought of. The cent is there because the book is about the absence of it. Also, about the number 99, that you see a lot in the supermarket, where again the one euro cent is missing.

Can the hole be a metaphor for the absence of value?

The hole could be a metaphor for the absence of value, but there are many other metaphors in the book for it. The drawings are sometimes builded around the hole, but for me it was also very intriguing to ignore the hole totally. So that it’s sometimes just a hole in paper and not really an important thing.

       What made you choose to show the drawings next to each other and not like in the book on a pile? Isn’t then the hole losing his function in your opinion?

In the exhibition of The lost cent, we hung the drawings next to each other but decided to have a space between the drawings and the wall, so that the hole would be still visible and still had a spacious feeling. But the drawings are specifically made for to be in a book, not on the wall. For me it’s very important with art books that they can’t exist in another way than a book. The lost cent couldn’t be a website by example. It can only be an object that you can enter, this is the same for child books. Like in a pop-up book, you literally disappear in it. Art books can accomplish the same.

In the back of the book a dialogue takes place, it’s designed in a very specific way, is there a reason behind it?

Arthur Roeloffzen wanted to make a very solid looking page, made for a reader and not like a theater piece with a lot of white space in between. To make it compact and give it even more the feeling of a concrete thing. We also searched for a long time to find paper that would be as voluminous as possible, so that it would be heavier.

How started the collaboration with Onomatopee?

The publisher came with the suggestion to collaborate with Olav Velthuis, he wanted to add an extra context. Olav Velthuis knows a lot about value and art, as a professor at the Universitty of Amsterdam. Onomatopee likes to have a literary link in books that they publish. So the story of Baudelaire came in, because it’s also about a coin that also went in another direction than it normally would go.

Do you think that you gave the one euro cent a new value with The Lost cent?

A review of my book came on the financial page of the newspaper NRC, so I think that I gave a new value to the one euro cent. I think it’s an accomplishment to be picked up by the editorial staff of the NRC. It felt like a big compliment. It means that people outside of the art world picking it up and form an opinion about it. You always have a kind of ideal outcome in thought as an artist and it really adds something if other people can do something with it, that the audience is changing.

Serge Onnen: The Lost Cent. designed by Arthur Roeloffzen, Rietveld library number: onn 3

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