Aokigahara is the name of a forest at the base of Mt. Fuji. It is the world’s second most popular place to commit suicide (after the Golden Gate Bridge).
This eponymous book was created by artist Veronika Schäpers with a very faintly reproduced text of a poem by Stephan Reich whose work, in both German and English, picks up on the signs posted in the forest which are designed to discourage suicide: “Your life is a precious gift from your parents” “We still need to see each other’s faces.” The translucent sections of this volume are folded and cut at different widths so that each spread opens to a different size. In lieu of traditional printing methods, the text is created through an inventive stencil process that exposes the paper to extremely intense ultraviolet light that was designed to disinfect water (i.e., kill micro-organisms) and that subtly discolors the paper. As the reader turns the pages, Reich’s brief sentences fade in and out of view. The haunting, overlapping text and the staggered pages create the impression of a person fading into the forest.
Adding to the ghostly quality of the book are the covers, which are made up of layers of clear foil and translucent paper that has been laser cut with overlapping text. This volume features a Coptic binding and is housed in a two-piece box of transparent acrylic. The box is silkscreened in white with the title and the colophon. The traditional color for sorrow in Buddhism is white, and a white felt blanket wraps around the box for protection.
One of 18 copies signed and numbered by the artist.
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 scheme of pension fraud.
Artist Veronika Schäpers worked with writer Heiko Michael Hartmann to create this work. All of the illustrations in the book are printed in black-and-white as a reference to the traditional colors of the ribbons used at Japanese funerals to wrap the condolence money, or koden, given to the family of the deceased. Inspired by the wrapping of mummies, the tradition of koden, and the role of folded paper and cloth at Japanese funerals, Schäpers designed a number of enclosures as part of the work. The booklets are housed in a silkscreened folded cardstock portfolio and the entire work is housed in a two-piece box made of translucent acrylic with a black felt blanket that wraps around it.
One of 40 copies signed and numbered by the artist and the author.
Do is a book about the art of Japanese archery, known as kyudo, or the way of the bow. Written in German by Berlin based author Heiko Michael Hartmann, this book is very much in the tradition of Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, a German philosophy professor who, like artist Veronika Schäpers, lived in Japan for several years.
The eight stages of shooting recognized in kyudo, such as footing, correcting the posture, and raising the bow, inspired Schäpers to divide the book into eight corresponding sections. The text is accompanied by abstract illustrations in various colors created by printing on cut strips of bamboo, the material used to craft the yumi, or the unique asymmetrical Japanese bow. To reflect its asymmetry, Schäpers designed Do in an oblong format using a 2:3 proportion in the folding of its sections, thus resulting in pages of various widths.
One of an edition of 45 numbered and signed by the artist and the author.
Designed by artist Veronika Schäpers, Ach features a popular and critically acclaimed German-language poem by Robert Gernhardt (translated by Ursula Runde) in which a talkative character faces death, or rather its personification, with a matter-of-fact conversation.
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 Yan Luo, the ruler of the underworld, whose image appears on all hell money.
One of 5 copies signed and numbered in roman numerals out of a total edition of 40.