[ Schäpers, Veronika ] Gernhardt, Robert. Ach. Tokyo: Veronika Schäpers. 2003.
Designed by artist Veronika Schäpers, Ach features a popular and critically acclaimed German-language poem by Robert Gernhardt in which a talkative character faces death, or rather its personification, with a matter-of-fact conversation:
I only meant to ask, old chap –
What? No questions? No more talking?
That’s fine by me. I’ll shut my –
And thus ends the poem (in a translation by Ursula Runde). Gernhardt was born in Estonia in 1937 and after moving to Stuttgart he became a well known cartoonist, satirist, writer, painter, and poet. He died in 2006 after a long battle with cancer.
In a fitting tribute to Gernhardt’s well known playfulness, Schäpers’ pages feature twelve collages of Chinese hell money which are the banknotes traditionally burned at funerals in China to help the dead have a good time in the afterlife. The collages are pasted between two layers of translucent mitsumata paper and printed with varnish to highlight the portrait of the ruler of the underworld, Yan Luo, who appears on all hell money.
The bright pink German text of the poem is letterpress-printed in 25 pt. Syntax on lightweight bands of Japanese paper that run across the middle of the book’s pages. This volume features a Coptic binding with mitsumata cardboard covers letterpress-printed and with a design in yellow ink echoing the highlighting of Yan Luo within. A light brown portfolio case with a heavyweight belly-band covered in hell money protects the book.
Published in an edition of 35 Arabic and 5 Roman numbered copies, this copy is number II. It is signed by the artist at the colophon.
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