[ Schäpers, Veronika ] Hartmann, Michael Heiko. Im Hochhaus. Tokyo: Veronika Schäpers. 2011.
Im Hochhaus was inspired by the real-life story of Sogen Kato who was thought to be the oldest living person in Tokyo. In 2010, Kato was discovered as a mummified corpse in the house where his relatives lived and where they had continued to collect his pension. By the end of the year, this revelation led to the discovery in Japan of 400 other corpses hidden away by surviving relatives, all as part of a massive fraudulent pension scheme.
Artist Veronika Schäpers worked with writer Heiko Michael Hartmann to create this book. Hartmann wrote a short story about an official who as part of an investigation of cases of pension fraud is having a conversation with a female suspect. This story is printed in German in four booklets of lightweight Japanese paper. A fifth booklet contains information about thirty real-life cases that Schäpers herself researched. Designed to be reminiscent of newspapers, each gatefold booklet consists of a folio with the text and also a folder with a cover illustration of the barrier tape that is used to block off a crime scene. All of the illustrations in the book are printed in black-and-white to reference the traditional colors of the ribbons used at Japanese funerals to wrap condolence money, or koden, typically brought to the funeral for the family of the deceased.
Inspired by the wrapping of mummies, koden, and the role of folding paper and cloth in Japanese funerals, Schäpers designed a number of wrapping enclosures as part of the work. The booklets are housed in a silkscreened folded cardstock portfolio that wraps around them. This portfolio has a Japanese text that relates the details of the thirty fraud cases. A cardboard case wraps around the portfolio and depicts with silkscreened photos the house where Sogen Kato’s body was found and where his family still lives. A band of Gecko Tape silkscreened with the book’s title and the author’s name wraps around the case. The entire work is housed in a two-piece box made of translucent acrylic with a black felt blanket that wraps around the box.
Im Hochhaus was published in an edition of 35 Arabic and 5 Roman numbered copies. This is copy number 21, and it is signed by the author and artist at the colophon.
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