Booklyn Artists Alliance

Veronika Schapers, Tokyo, Japan

Im Hockhaus, 2011

Blieben, 2011

Okonomiyaki (Fried As You Like It), 2010

Die Nase (The Nose), 2009

Ich--wann Wo?, 2007

26°57, 3’N, 142°16, 8’E (Architeuthis), 2007

Erbe, 2006

Do, 2005

Jack and Betty forever, 2005

Funky Sabbath, 2005

In Praise of Typhoons, 2004

Ach, 2003

A Safe Method to Pass University Entrance Exams in the Subject of Japanese, 2003

Worm Magic, 2002

Triumph of a Trouser Salesman, 2001



Im Hockhaus, 2011

HH_case_1.jpgThe idea for this book is based on a radio report of July 29, 2010, that told about finding a mummified corps in Tokyo’s Adachi ward. It was the body of Sogen Kato, who was said to be the oldest Tokyoite alive. In order to prepare a celebration at the „Day of the aged“ in mid September, public officers of the Tokyo authorities tried to visit him, but were rejected several times by his relatives, living in the same house. Finally, the officers called the police who discovered the mummy in his bed on the ground floor of his house.

Three days later, the authorities found out that the oldest woman alive, Fusa Furuya, had disappeared as well. She was registered as living with her daughter, and her daughter even had paid her healthinsurances regularly, but her mother had not been seen since 1986. A systemtatic search began, and the officers were told not to leave before they had seen the supposed-to-be-alive persons. Altogether, 400,000 cases of wronlgy registered people and 400 cases of pension fraud were uncovered until the end of the year, which led to great disconcertment in Japan.


For this book, I looked into 30 cases of the years 2010 and 2011, where relatives had hidden their parents, aunts or uncles in their house to furthermore receive their pension. It turned out that in many cases, the delinquents had never earned their own money and were still living in the house of their parents. The death of their parents showed them how dependent they are and how unable to care for their own income and their lives in general. The long list of these cases shows the tragedy, but at the same time also some comedy, because the explanations and excuses are often exactly the same.


Heiko Michael Hartmann, a German author with whom I spoke about these cases of pension fraud, wrote a short story about this topic. Taking the perspective of an officer who is told to examine these cases, Hartmann describes how this officer visits the house of an unemployed cultural scientist and finds the corps of her mummified mother. The daughter becomes more and more dependent on her mother and finally sees no other way out, but hiding the corps.


I have printed Hartmann’s story on four single pages of thin Ganpi paper, alluding to newspaper typography. These papers are fold into sheets of the same paper with black stripes of barrier tape printed on their back side. A fifth page contains the translation of the documented cases as well as the imprint. All five wrapped papers are placed next to each other in a big cardboard cover. On this cardboard, I have printed all 30 cases of pension fraud, always in the same order: name and age of the delinquent, name and age of the dead, total amount of wrongly received pension, place where the corps was found, and finally a quotation of the excuses. The wrapped cover is placed into a stronger cardboard, on which I have printed two roughly pixelled photographs. These pictures show the house, in which Sogen Kato was found in 2010, and where his family is still living today. The case is held by a self-adherent so called Gecko tape, on which title of the book and name of the author are printed.


Heiko Michael Hartmann: Im Hochhaus (In the skyscraper). Letterpress Print from polymer plates and barrier tape on Bicchu-Ganpi paper. 5 fold sheets in a wrapped cover from GA file, with cases of pension fraud in Japan 2010 and 2011, printed in silkscreen. Case made of silkscreen printed GA file. Banderole made from Gecko tape , title printed in silkscreen. 15 x 37 cm (closed), 103 x 37 cm (open). Auflage: 36 Arabic numbered und 4 Roman numbered copies. Tokyo, 2011.



Blieben, 2011

On March 11, 2011, the North-Eastern part of Japan was struck by an earthquake magnitude 9.0, and the following tsunami devastated big parts of the coast. The electricity of the nuclear power plant Fukushima-Dai-ichi broke down, and four reactor blocks got out of control. Afraid of radiation and the consecutive afterstrokes, I went with my family to Fukuoka in Southern Japan on March 13. From there, we travelled via HongKong and Dresden to Düsseldorf, where we stayed for five weeks, before we went back to Tokyo.


While living in Germany, I started working on an x-ray project, which I later finished in Tokyo. The German author Durs Grünbein, who is very familiar with Japan, wrote a poem reflecting the emotional state of many Japanese citizens.


The invisible radiation that is so difficult to understand and of which the consequences will appear only years or decades later, was one of the topics I was thinking about a lot, when I was in Germany. Always calculating, at which point in time it would make sense to take our two little children back to Tokyo. To make the invisible tangible, I worked with x-rays to visualize the poem.


I cut the German text and its Japanese translation by Yuji Nawata, from a thin magnet foil. After that, the director of the German x-ray museum, Mr. Ulrich Hennig, took pictures of these two texts on an medical x-ray device. These data became the base for making the photogravure plates.


I opposed the x-ray pictures to three photographs taken by the Swiss photographer Andreas Seibert in Tohoku. They show a photo album and a Japanese woman looking for her personal belongings in the village Rikuzentakata that was destroyed by the tsunami. The biggest image shows a wall of a public building in Otsuchi, burnt and with remains of the tsunami in front. These three images are printed as well as photogravures and by this get a level of abstraction varying from just documentation.


The five photogravures are printed on one sheet of old ganpi-paper which was originally used to wrap handmade paper. These wrapped stacks were marked with different notes; e.g. amount, name of the making person and other small notes; they also were stored for a long time in a storage and show signs of dirt or are yellowed at the corners. These remains of time and use, as well as valuation (the paper was carefully flattened and stored over years by a japanese dealer) dot not only get along very well with the the poem but also with Seibert’s photographs. It were mainly photo albums which the citizen of the destroyed villages were looking for, carefully kept rememberances of family, friends and fesivities which cannot be replaced unlike most of the material things.

Onto another sheet of ganpi-paper I printed in letterpress a remark of Grünbein and the imprint; both sheets are kept in a jacket of dark grey cardboard and are stored in a black-blue pasted case.

Text by Durs Grünbein. Translated into Japanese by Yuji Nawata. 3 Photographs taken in Rikuzentakata and Otsuchi by Andreas Seibert. The x-ray images were taken by Ulrich Hennig, Director of the German x-ray Museum in Remscheid. Printed on 70 years old japanese Ganpi-paper. Letterpress Print on Ganpi-paper. Case with embossed title. 1 sheet, about 68 x 52 cm. Edition of 28 arabic and 5 roman numbered copies. Tokyo, 2011.


Okonomiyaki (Fried As You Like It), 2010

OK_1.jpgOkonomiyaki – the name of this popular Japanese dish could be translated into “fried as you like”. But the text of the Japanese author Yoko Tawada is not a cooking recipe, but an accumulation of text fragments that can be mixed freely like the ingredients of an okonomiyaki, put into new order or even be omitted partially – just as you like. When explaining her text, Yoko Tawada even calls her «okonomiyaki principle» a new genre in which she has written more pieces since; for example in her opening speech of the exhibition がさごそ [gasagoso] at the Japanese-German Center Berlin (Oct. 2010), where the book was shown for the first time.


The idea for this book came up when I met Tawada at the New York Public Library where both of us were invited for a symposium (Ehon - The Artist and the Book in Japan, New York Public Library, 2006/2007) Shortly before we met, I had read an essay of hers titled «Wohnen in Japan» (Living in Japan) in which she describes the following: Sushi, which symbolizes light and luxurious simplicity, clarity and health, represents Japanese cuisine in the U.S. and Europe. Although this dish is popular in Japan as well, it shows only one aspect of the multifaceted cuisine, and it is easy to find Japanese dishes that juxtapose the aesthetics of Sushi, like for example Katsu-Kare (Schnitzel on rice, served with curry sauce), Pizza-Manju (Chinese dumplings, filled with various Pizza ingredients), or the pancake-like okonomiyaki, for which you can use almost all ingredients you like. Mayonnaise, brown sauce und seaweed powder are combined as well as tuna and filet steak. This pancake tastes much better than you would think, and in Japan, it is more popular than Sushi.


It is not the case that mainly rich people, critical intellectuals or the young avantgarde eat sushi, whereas the pancake is food for rather simple people. Also, it is wrong to say that sushi represents “good old tradition”, where other dishes derive from “bad foreign influence”. The anthropologist Kunio Yanagita says that modern sushi – like many other Japanese dishes as well – has no long tradition at all, because food in Tokyo has changed drastically in the last 100 years. People in Tokyo were always keen to try new tastes and implement them into their own cuisine (Yoko Tawada: Wohnen in Japan (Living in Japan); in her essay collection «Nach Japan», pp. 248ff, Konkursbuch Verlag, Tübingen 2007).


The theme of this essay is the idealistic and blurred perception of the Japanese Culture in other countries, and after reading it, I invited Yoko Tawada to create an okonomiyaki book together. Okonomiyaki in the first place stood as a synonym for cultural misunderstandings. Tawada, who has been living in Germany since 1982 and writes in German as well as in Japanese, in my eyes was the perfect author for this subject, because she knows both cultures very well and is not tempted to write polemically about each other’s misunderstandings. But even though we decided to work together, it took us another three years until the book was finally completed.


Every fragment of the text is allocated to one ingredient an okonomiyaki is made of. I started to work with patterns that appear when you pour sauce and mayonnaise over a fried okonomiyaki. Everyone has his own method of pouring the sauce like simple spiral forms, subtle lines, or even comic strip-like characters. I made a mixture of glue and ink which has the texture of the popular Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise and filled it in an empty bottle of this brand. Then, I asked friends to paint their patterns on a 30 x 30 cm sized card board, so I got a wide range of variations. I transferred these patterns into polymer plates and printed them on very smooth and shiny Bicchu-Ganpi paper. Every pattern faces a detail of an enlargement which brings the ‹sauce-patterns› onto a new aesthetical level. The blue-black printed pages are overlaid by another layer of Bicchu-Ganpi with a circle printed in transparent white resembling the moon or an okonomiyaki – according to the theme of cultural misunderstandings. Because of the fine paper and the delicate colors, the reader may on the first hand think of the moon, but reading the text fragments printed on the fold of each doublespread, the picture of an okonomiyaki arises. This impression is also mirrored in the layering of the papers since the okonomiyaki is a dish in which there are not only plenty of ingredients mixed, but also layered on top of each other.


The theme of layering is also shown in the Japanese edition. The Japanese text (which is not a translation of the German one) consists of fiveteen fragments like its German counterpart, each of them belonging to the same expressions as in the German text. Nevertheless, Tawada’s associations differ, which shows her different way of thinking and feeling in both cultures and languages.


The Japanese frangments are printed one by one; I fold the paper in a way that every fragment is placed in a single box pleat. The transparent white ink is seen as a single strip appearing from time to time between the text-fragments. The sauce-patterns are not printed by polymer plates like in the German edition, but painted directly onto the paper with the same glue-ink mixture I used for the boards.

Both editions are composed of the same «ingredients»: fifteen text-fragments, Bicchu-Ganpi paper, letterpress in black and transparent white, the O-shape, box pleats and sauce-patterns; but the outcome is very different – just okonomi!

The third part of the book consists of two sheets of oiled paper printed with a Japanese calligraphy. The original was painted by the owner of a traditional lantern manufacture in Asakusa, Tokyo. In this workshop, paper lanterns for restaurants are made and painted. These lanterns are hanging in front of restaurants with traditional food and the guest can see by the sign on the lantern what kind of dish is served inside. The font is an old fashioned Edo moji, and on the oiled sheets, you can read «Yoko Tawada» and «Okonomiyaki». The yellow, smelly paper evokes the odor which one finds stuck to his clothes after spending some time in an okonomiyaki restaurant.

All three parts of the book are protected by fold cardboard jackets and put together in an acrylic box printed with a matted circle shape and the title in German and Japanese.

Letterpress by polymer plates in German and Japanese on Bicchu-Ganpi paper. Illustrated with sauce-patterns printed by letterpress (German edition). Illustrated with original drawings by Veronika Schäpers with a mixture of glue and ink (Japanese edition). Accordion fold. Two sheets of oiled paper printed with calligraphies by the lantern workshop Oshimaya-Onda, Tokyo. Transparent acrylic box with title. 32 pages (D), respectively 6 pages (J). 21 x 20 cm (D), respectively 20 x 20 cm (J). Edition of 32 Arabic numbered and 6 Roman numbered copies. Tokyo, 2010.


Ich--wann Wo?, 2007

In his poem Ich--wann? Wo? (Me--when? Where?) the Berlin based author Heiko Michael Hartmann juxtaposes the subject and the object (the subjective Ego and the objective Ego) swapping their position by a continuous change of perspective.


Hartmann has written this poem specially for this book which was presented first time at the exhibition “Absence” in the Neues Kusthaus Ahrenshoop in 2007.


Bearing in mind the title of the exhibition as well as the mind game between the “Ego” and its counterpart, I started to look for persons who are present but not existing. They hold an identity, but if someone tries to contact them, they turn out to be “absent persons”, to be non-existing.


Most well-known example of such a person in Germany is Erika Mustermann, appearing in official document samples for more than twenty years. She changed to a younger age during the years and adjusted her hairstyle to present fashions, but beside of this, she hasn’t change since she first appeared in public in 1981. I found other absent persons in different countries: John Citizen from Australia, Nippon Taro from Japan, Felice Aurelio Modello from Switzerland etc. From those I chose ten persons whose portraits I enlarged and cut like a cadavre exquis into stripes. With these stripes, I composed new faces, all of them without eyes, and created ten new identities. These faces are printed in bright orange onto a two-layered orange-colored kraftpaper partially overlaid by the poem in silver also following the stripe pattern. On the verso of the accordion fold book, one can find small portraits of the ten “absent” people as well as their date of birth.


The book is kept in a dustcover made of semitransparent PVC, letting shine through the title on the front cover. Referring to the theme of absence, I addressed a yellow parcel from the German Post and mailed it to the ten “absent” persons. After they came back with the remark “return to sender”, I pasted the inside with a silver paper and used it as a box for the book. Keeping in mind that someone might open the parcel, I inserted a copy of the poem and a brief explanation of the project.

I—when? Where?
by Heiko Michael Hartmann

Means present here,
means absent there,
a pair in space and
time are you, is I

For You and I,
that’s who you are,
an eye that sees itself
You speak and hear,
both space and time,
what’s left?
for all this flows,

Reading this,
you are I,
and I am you,
not there, not here,
simply a voice
hearing itself,
just here and
now are we

Translation: Emily Banwell

Heiko Michael Hartmann: Ich – wann? Wo? Letterpress print in orange and silver by polymer clichés on hososhi paper. Accordion fold. Fold dustcover made of semitransparent vinyl chloride and gum rods. Packed in a stamped and mailed yellow parcel from the German Post. 13 cm x 21 cm (closed), 13cm x 146 cm (open). Edition of 5 Artists’ copies, 6 Roman numbered, and 24 Arabic numbered copies. Tokyo, 2007.



26°57,3’N, 142°16,8’E (Architeuthis), 2007


Edition of 36.
3 poems by Durs Grünbein.
Translation into Japanese by Yuji Nawata.
Letterpress-Print in German and Japanese by polymer clichés and vinyl mats in blue, grey and black.
Printed on 50-year-old Toshaban-Genshi-paper.
Illustrated with nautical charts and data on the Architeuthis, provided by Tsunemi Kubodera at the National Museum of Science, Tokyo.
Flexible cover made of clear vellum embossed in black.
Box made of 8 mm thick clear acrylic glass.
46 pages. 24 cm x 45,3 cm., Tokyo, 2007.
26°57,3’N, 142°16,8’E – At this location in the northwestern pacific the Japanese marine biologist Tsunemi Kubodera took for the first time pictures of a living giant squid in its natural environment. I chose this coordinates as the title for this book containing three poems by the Berlin based author Durs Grünbein. Despite being sited 900 km south of Tokyo, the there located Ogasawara Islands belong to the administrative district of the capital. Up to these first images all scientific surveys based on dead squids washed ashore or parts of them found in the stomach of sperm whales and which evoked through their giant size the myth of the aggressive monster. It was not only a scientific sensation when Kubodera published the pictures he has taken in September 2004 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society one year later but he got worldwide attention. Inspired by a note in the Newspaper, Durs Grünbein wrote a poem titled “Architeuthis” about this discovery.
In autumn 2006, just shortly before he caught the first giant squid alive, I visited Tsunemi Kubodera in his office in the National Museum of Science in Tokyo. Surrounded by countless preparations and images of different types of squids he told me about his discovery and the reactions on his publication not forgetting to point out his disappointment about the Japanese media concentrating on the questions if this giant squid is edible and how many sushi could be made out of it. I decided to use the data and formulas received from Kubodera together with some nautical charts as illustrations for the book. When we met, Kubodera also showed me pictures and short films of squids he recorded in depths between 600 and 1000 meters. On these images the unpracticed spectator only sees dimly silhouettes of the squids but at the same time one starts to sense the diversity of life in such darkness. This gave me the idea to work in this book with the interaction of transparent and opaque pages.
In search of an appropriate paper some difficulties arose: a beautiful sample which I brought from a trip to Shikoku some years ago was not available any more since the papermaker has died and no one succeeds his skills. Finally I got a bigger amount of old Toshaban-Genshi, a very thin Ganpi-paper, which was used to make stencils for the Mimeograph. This paper was exactly what I was looking for, on the one hand very thin and transparent but on the other hand so firm that once it was printed with a dark color it turned to be opaque. It also attracts through a fine and rustling tone. Each page of the book consists of a double spread paper, folded in the front. These fold pages are printed completely with a transparent Medium, a color ranging between grey, blue or black as well as transitions of these colors. The pages are cut horizontally, pulled apart a little and make by this the inserted single sheets visible. On these sheets I printed the data Kubodera surveyed as well as the nautical charts, which are often visible only partially. The pages with its stripes remind the reader of horizons and depth contours and at the same time give a glimpse to the normally invisible variety of the deep-sea world as if you would light it up with a torch. The first and the last page show the outlines of Tokyo Bay with the fish market Tsukiji. In 1895 for the first time a species named “Architeuthis sp.” was discovered there and described by the Japanese scientists Mitsukuri and Ikeda. The German scientist Franz Hilgendorf, wo described in 1880 a “Megateuthis” found a lot of his specimens in Tsukiji.
The tranquil and colored pages are interrupted by six double-spread pale pages, printed with the three poems in German on the left side and in the Japanese translation on the right side. According to the coordinates of the place where Kubodera made his images all periods are replaced with a degree sign and commas are replaced with a minute sign. Yuji Nawata translated the poems into Japanese for this edition. All inserted single pages and the poems are printed by polymer clichés, the colored pages are printed by Vinyl mats.
The book is stitched with thin straps of vellum to a flexible cover of clear vellum. The first page with the title and the last page with the imprint are visible through the clear material. By it’s natural warping and organic character the vellum sets a harmonic antipole to the technical image of the inner pages. On the front cover the name of the author is embossed in small letters. To control the natural warping of the vellum the covers are hold together with magnetic strips at the leading edge. The book is kept in a compact box made of 8 mm acrylic glass in the style of a preparation. By this it seems to be cast in and the heavy box forms a beautiful contrast to the lightweight and fragile book.


Erbe, 2006


The poem “legacy” by the Berlin based author Kerstin Hensel treats of the responsibility for the older generation and mirrors the bad conscience of the offspring evoked by their lack of interest and careless treatment.


Not taken serious at all in her own world of thoughts the old grandmother described in the poem is given the same birthday present from her grandchildren every year, a collectible cup. She accepts and also uses them for her daily cup of coffee but by her respond that “they will be yours in the future” the heirs feel at the same time their unkind and helpless treatment.


The picture of the grandmother drinking coffee from a collectible cup used by Kerstin Hensel in her poem, brought up my idea to work with lace paper. Similar to the collectible cups you do find these lace papers nowadays mainly in households of old ladies as well as old-fashioned cafés. Their kitschy and flamboyant esthetics reminds me of those of the collectible cups.

I printed parts of different patterned lace papers in two-colored frottages on thin handmade ganpi-paper which I thereafter mounted to a big-sized paper tablecloth. Additionally I embroidered the text of Hensel’s poem on a white linen dishcloth, reminding of those monogram-stitched clothes and fabrics I know from the generation of my grandparents.

By this I get two typical heirlooms, a tablecloth and a dishcloth. Both pieces are kept in a paper wrapping similar to those you use in Japan to keep precious kimono-fabrics. However, the wrapping is fold so often that it gets the shape of a sofa-cushion, an impression supported by attached labels on which the imprint is printed in letterpress.

Kerstin Hensel: Erbe. Frottage of lace papers on ganpi paper in light green and pink, mounted together to a two-layered tablecloth. White linen cloth embroidered with the poem “Erbe” in silver-grey. Paper-wrapping in the shape of a Japanese tatoushi (wrapping paper for kimono). Imprint on embroidered and printed labels. Size of tablecloth: 91cm x 91cm. Size of linen: 60cm x 80cm. Size of the wrapped Object: 27,5cm x 25,5cm. Edition of 15 Arabic numbered copies. Tokyo, 2006.


DO, 2005


Tokyo, text by Heiko Michael Hartmann: 52 x 17.5 cm. Edition of 35 Arabic numbered copies and 10 Roman numbered copies. Letterpress printed in black, with zinc-clichés, on Japanese Katajigami paper. 7 multicolored Illustrations printed by strips of bamboo. Bound in dark-blue Mitsumata paper printed in violet with a pattern of bamboo. Case pasted with Mitsumata paper and Katajigami paper printed with the title and tied with a bowstring.


For the illustrations, I used 227cm long and 2.5cm wide stripes of bamboo, which are usually used to produce the Japanese bow. Each of these stripes, I cut into pieces of different lengths. Because of the graining of the bamboo, we see only straight lines, in longer pieces sometimes interrupted by joints. The single quires are stitched through the cover onto a spine of bamboo. I have pasted a blue Mitsumata paper to the cover, printed with a pattern of bamboo stripes. Reflecting the asymmetry of the pages, the cover has a joint that divides recto and verso in a relation of 2:3.


In his text “Do”, the Berlin based author Heiko Michael Hartmann describes the art of Japanese Archery, Kyudo, which literally means “way of the bow”. The days where the Japanese bow was used as a weapon are long past and modern Kyudo is practiced primarily as a method of physical, moral, and spiritual development. Hartmann writes about the archer‘s spirit state and his movements starting from taking the shooting position until releasing the arrow and stepping back. We understand that the most important factor for a true shot is not the technique, but a true shot is one that is pure and right-minded, where the three elements of attitude, movement, and technique unite in a state of perfect harmony. The way of the arrow can be divided into the so called Hassetsu, the eight fundamental stages of shooting All of these movements, from the first to the last, must by no means be separated from each other. They are part of one continuous sequence of movements that are performed with seamless integration. I chose this division into eight stages as the base concept for my book, printing the text on eight quires in oblong format. Each of these layers is fold in a 2:3 relation, taking pattern from the asymmetric form of the Japanese bow, resulting in pages of different lengths. I printed on Japanese Katajigami paper, which normally is used for the production of stencils for printing patterns onto fabric. The paper is dyed with the astringent juice of the kaki fruit, giving it a reddish brown tone. Afterwards it is put in to a smoke chamber for at least two weeks, replacing the sour smell by a smoky one. Because of its color and consistence, this paper reminds us of wood and evokes a smell like in Buddhist temples. Due to the dying process, the recto differs significantly from the verso. On the recto of all pages, I printed the text, and on the recto illustrations referring to the Hassetsu. In detail, these are:
1. Ashibumi, footing
2. Dozukuri, correcting the posture
3. Yugamae, readying the bow
4. Uchiokoshi, raising the bow
5. Hikiwake, drawing the bow
6. Kai (Nobiai, Jinnan), meeting, completing the draw,
7. Hanare, the release
8. Zanshin, continuation, remaining body or remaining spirit

Public collections—Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach, Germany Public Library of the University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland Museum for Applied Arts, Vienna, Austria


Jack and Betty forever, 2005

JB case_web.jpg

original story by Shimuzu Yoshinori, in an edition of 35 Arabic numbered copies, with texts in Japanese and English. Letterpress-print by zinc-clichés in English and Japanese, linocut on notebook paper with different lines and grids. Cover made by GA-File. CD in a booklet with old recordings from the textbook “Revised Jack and Betty”. Box pasted with different covers from store bought Japanese notebooks. 16,5 x 19 cm.


Jack & Betty – in the fifties and sixties a whole generation of Japanese studied English by using this textbook. The big influence this book had on most of these students is still visible in the society. Almost everyone who studied with this book, can remember it very well and may even be able to repeat the first sentence – for most of them the first contact with a foreign language at all: “This is a pen.” Forty years after this book ceased to be used in Japanese schools, there are still some hints at its influence, e.g. a whole chain of pachinko parlors or a love hotel as well as pets have been named after the two protagonists.

In his short story “Jack & Betty forever”, the Japanese author Yoshinori Shimizu describes what has happened to the two protagonists thirty years after they graduated from school. He lets meet them by accident in the street where they tell each other their story as well as the story of their families who also play a role in the textbook. Both of them didn’t have much success in their life, but what makes Shimizu’s story sound so weird and tragic is the fact that both of them continue to talk to each other in the same strange style they used in their textbook dialogues. They excuse this by saying they were models for an English language textbook for Japanese and “because of that, at our school we deliberately started speaking English in a way that was easier for Japanese people to understand.” They are sitting in a café not being able to talk in a language level appropriate to their age and experiences. From time to time they relapse into the dialogues of their schooldays and feel only comfortable with conversations like: “Is that a sofa?” “No, that is not a sofa. That is chair.” His speech being reverted to patterns of thirty years ago, Jack is not able to confess that he was in love with Betty during their three years at junior high school and still is attracted by her beauty.

For this book I collected Japanese notebooks with different lines and grids. Checkered and vertical lined ones for the Japanese characters, horizontal lined ones for the alphabet. The text was originally published in Japanese 1991 by Kodansha. I printed the Japanese version on paper with western lines and the English version on paper for Japanese characters. As the English and Japanese way of reading differ (English: left – right, Japanese: right – left) the book has two beginnings: the English text starts in ”front“, the Japanese in the ”back“. Both of them meet in the middle with the imprint. Each page is illustrated with a pattern of roses. For this, I took the rose Betty in lesson 7 is holding in her hand and showing it to Jack saying: “This is a flower.”

The cover of the book is made from light blue cardboard, corresponding to the blue color of the lines and printed with a rose pattern. The book comes with a small booklet containing a CD on which I burned parts from singles Columbia Records has published in the fifties and which are recorded with lessons from the textbook. This gives the reader who does not know the original textbook an impression of the dialogues that from a nowadays perspective, seem to be very stiff. Both, CD and book are kept in a box pasted with the different covers from the notebooks I used. There are covers with Japanese comic characters as well as English quotations that reflect the aesthetics fifty years after the textbook Jack & Betty was first introduced to Japan.


Funky Sabbath


Story by Marcel Beyer,” published in Tokyo, 2004, edition of 15 Arabic numbered copies. Letterpress Print in German (Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk) and Russian (Helvetica Inserat) by zinc-clichees with black printing ink on three pale yellow rubber strips. Russian translation by Michail Rudnitski. House-shaped prints by used bicycle tires in various colors. Oval-shaped cardboard box pasted with cream-colored paper printed in light green and pink. Size of each strip: 15 cm x 100 cm. Signed by the artist.

Public Collections:
Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach, Germany


Durs Gruenbein: Lob des Taifuns


(In Praise of Typhons) Edition of 35 Arabic numbered copies and 6 Roman numbered copies. Tokyo, 2004 letterpress printed in German and Japanese by zinc-clichèes with gray printing ink on handmade mitsumata-tsuchi-iri-paper. Two calligraphies by Akiko Kojima. Concertina with 28 woven paper-strips. Slipcase with printed title and scaled down eki-stampu. Cover made from clear Vinyl. 3.4 inches/8.6 cm x 14.25 inches/36 cm (closed), 101.5 inches/258 cm x 14.25 inches/36 cm (open).


During his three journeys to Japan in 1999, 2002 and 2003, the Berlin based poet Durs Gruenbein described his impressions in a diary consisting of haiku. This short poem form is strictly tied to its number of syllables (5 – 7 – 5), and has its origin in the first verse (hokku) of a chain poem (haikai no renga), and developed to an original poetic form in the 16th century. The term haiku was formed by Masaoka Shiki in 1892. The verses of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson and Kobayashi Issa, the three great haiku poets of the Edo period should correctly be called hokku, but nowadays are named haiku as well.


From the 92 unpublished haiku I received from Durs Gruenbein, I selected 28 for this book. They reflect the limited amount of time in Gruenbein’s journeys as well as his concentration on the Japanese east coast, and are like snapshots of urban life in the big cities. Every time a reference to nature is made, the reader recognizes how man has interfered and changed his natural environment. This interaction of metropolitan everyday life and this traditional poetic form required a special material. Therefore, I asked Hideo Ogawa to produce a handmade Japanese paper especially for this book: It is a fine mitsumata paper (mitsumata-tsuchi-iri), that is dyed grayish-brown by earthen pigments and creates an impression of fair-faced concrete. Due to the traditional drying method (in the open air on wooden boards) the surface of the paper shows a fine shininess and relief, whereas the reverse side seems more blunt and uneven.


Five sheets of this paper are mounted together to a total length of 258 cm. On this I printed with gray printing ink the two chinese characters: kage = shadow, but also: silhouette, light, trace) and machi = city; street, from specially made zinc-clichès. The originals of these characters were painted by the Japanese calligrapher Akiko Kojima, who selected these two after reading all the haiku with great care over and over again. Using the character kage, Kojima wants to stress that a haiku always expresses a short moment in time, a special emotion, and by writing machi, she refers to urban topics as well as to the fact that these poems are part of a journey diary. Having a closer look, the reader can see that Kojima used a thick brush and wrote the characters in a size exceeding the paper. The machi character (city, street) on the right hand side appears heavy and almost static, whereas kage (shadow) is more distorted and seems to glide out of the paper on the left. I sliced the accordion fold printed paper horizontally, in order to divide every page into four squares. Then I printed the two characters in a lighter gray on five pages each and then cut them into pieces of 8,5 x 36 cm. This is not a random measurement, but refers to tanzaku, a slim, upright paper strip, on which Japanese poets traditionally used to write. With letterpress, I printed one haiku on each of the 28 paper strips, in the German original as well as in its Japanese translation by Yuji Nawata. For the font in the German version, I selected a bold form of Gill sans, a plain sans serif, giving the poem an elegant touch by striking roundness and peaks. For the Japanese version, I chose Hiragino Gothic, sans serif as well, but due to its slight curves less hard than the other.


On the reverse side of each tanzaku, one can find data, when and where the haiku was written. This data not only reflects the route of the trip, it also explain parts of the poems. I wove the printed tanzaku into the sliced paper breadth. When opening the accordion folded piece like a book, the reader notices two pages of haiku alternating with two pages of data containing place and time. Reading the book this way, we see only parts of the two Chinese characters. Opening the piece in its whole width, however, there emerge two other possibilities: either we detect all haiku and both Chinese characters in their full beauty (composed of lighter and darker gray), or we see a composition of all places and times of origin, mixed with parts of the calligraphy in dark gray. By dividing the whole piece into squares, I tried to underline the intended construction of the book, which is contrasting with the picturesque Chinese characters.

The book is stored in a case made from the same tsuch-iri-mitsumata paper like the book itself, marked with the German and Japanese title as well as a number of eki-stampu. These so-called 'station stamps' can be seen at bigger train stations throughout the country; they are for travellers who put a stamp into their diary like a souvenir – a token that one has visited that certain place. Of course, they are used by children, but more than children, it is typically Japanese adults who like to document their journey this way. I visited several places described by Durs Gruenbein in his haiku and produced zinc-clichés of the stamps I collected there to print the cases. To protect the book against dust, book and case are wrapped in a cover of clear vinyl, tied with a rubber string. This simple packaging underlines the fact that the origin of this book was a travel diary.

Collections—Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien, Vienna, AustriaFrankfurter Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Germany Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum, Leipzig, Germany Klingspor-Museum, Offenbach, Germany Lafayette College, PA, USA Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna, Austria Museum of Modern Art, NY, USA New York Public Library, NY, USA Universitätsbibliothek, Franfurt, Germany


Ach, 2003

Veronika Schapers,
text by Robert Gernhardt


By using a direct and forthright language Robert Gernhardt describes in his poem Ach a situation everybody has to face once: the confrontation with death. The protagonist doesn’t seem to be prepared for this encounter. Although surprised he faces the “Grim Reaper“ in an not only easy but even voluble way. Gernhardt uses terms and phrases of daily life exposing in an unpoetical-poetic way the helpnessless of the protagonist and condemns him at the very end by the last unspoken word to that silence he cannot escape from even with his logorrhea/flow of words.

The text is underlayed with collages of chinese hell money, paper money from the “paradise bank“ up to the value of a few billion Yuan which is burned at funerals or at the annual commemoration day for the dead. Burning the money the value rises up in the netherworld and by thus enables the dead to spend a good time in afterlife. To lessen the intense colours of the paper money I pasted it between two thin layers of Japanese mitsumata paper and printed it partly with varnish. By this the portrait of Yan Luo, king of the netherworld, which is printed on every bill is pointed out. Each page is enfold by a banderole with Gernhardt’s text printed on reminding the reader of the bundels the hell money is sold in. On the cover, made of thick mitsumata cardboard, I printed with varnish a pattern of rings similar to the varnish prints which point out Yan Luo’s head on the pages.

The book is kept in a case made of light brown cardboard hold together by a banderole made of hell money.

"Robert Gernhardt: Ach

By using a direct and forthright language Robert Gernhardt describes in his poem Ach a situation everybody has to face once: the confrontation with death. The protagonist doesn’t seem to be prepared for this encounter. Although surprised he faces the “Grim Reaper“ in an not only easy but even voluble way. Gernhardt uses terms and phrases of daily life exposing in an unpoetical-poetic way the helpnessless of the protagonist and condemns him at the very end by the last unspoken word to that silence he cannot escape from even with his logorrhea/flow of words.

The text is underlayed with collages of chinese hell money, paper money from the “paradise bank“ up to the value of a few billion Yuan which is burned at funerals or at the annual commemoration day for the dead. Burning the money the value rises up in the netherworld and by thus enables the dead to spend a good time in afterlife. To lessen the intense colours of the paper money I pasted it between two thin layers of Japanese mitsumata paper and printed it partly with varnish. By this the portrait of Yan Luo, king of the netherworld, which is printed on every bill is pointed out. Each page is enfold by a banderole with Gernhardt’s text printed on reminding the reader of the bundels the hell money is sold in. On the cover, made of thick mitsumata cardboard, I printed with varnish a pattern of rings similar to the varnish prints which point out Yan Luo’s head on the pages.
The book is kept in a case made of light brown cardboard hold together by a banderole made of hell money."—Robert Gernhardt

Robert Gernhardt: Ach. Tokyo 2003. Collage of chinese hell money, pasted between two layers of thin mitsumata papers and printed with varnish. Letterpress print by zinc-clichés with pink fluorescent printing-ink on ganpi paper strips. Coptic binding into a mitsumata cardbord cover, also printed with varnish. Light brown case made of GA File with printed title in pink and closed by a banderole of hell money. 32,5 cm x 32,0 cm. Edition of 25 Arabic and 5 Roman numbered copies.


A Safe Method to Pass University Entrance Exams in the Subject of Japanese

a book by Veronika Schapers of a story by Shimizu Yoshinori, 2003, edition of 40 Arabic numbered copies, 34 cm x 49 cm. Black letterpress print of the text by zinc-clichees in German and Japanese. Japanese rubber stamps for school marks are printed by hand with printing ink in various colors on Mitsumata paper. Japanese binding with twisted paper cord. Cover made of Kozo Ganpi cardboard printed with rubber stamps in light pink. Padded case made of cotton fabrics in the shape of a Japanese Omamori-charm, with the Japanese title embroidered in ivory.


In his short story, the Author Shimizu Yoshinori (born 1947) describes in a humorous as well as socio-critical way the Japanese system of entrance examinations. This procedure, which is also known as the ”examination hell“ is not only applied to universities, but depending to the status and type of school also to high schools, elementary schools and even Kindergartens. In general it is much more difficult to pass the entrance exam than to graduate from a university. These examinations do not share any particular format, every university has its own scheme. To prepare for this, there are lots of cram schools in Japan, each specialized in a certain university’s entrance exam. As a result, some students start to prepare years in advance even before finishing high school. In his book ”Japan’s Modern Myth“ Roy Andrew Miller writes: “The Japanese university examinations are the ultimate, the most frightening rite of passage known to any modern society“ (pg. 241). In Japan not only the fiscal year but also school, university and employment start in April, which makes February the main period of examinations. The public interest in this rite is so huge that newspapers publish parts of the examinations and reports are broadcast on television. Because only a small percentage of all candidates are going to pass, many of them take more than one examination. This means that in the case of being rejected from one university they probably have a second choice and do not have to wait a whole year until the next examination takes part.


Shimizu criticizes the outrageous pressure the students have to stand, but he also focuses on criticizing the kind of questions: “These extraordinary (...) examinations do not test the student’s knowledge or command (...). What they do exhaustively examine instead is how well the student has managed to conform to the rigors of the officially set curriculum uniformly enforced by the Japanese Ministry of Education throughout the entire educational establishment. The student is actually not being tested on the language at all, but on his willingness to conform. The conformers pass.” (Roy Andrew Miller “Japan’s Modern Myth“, pg. 240).

I read Shimizu Yoshinori’s text for the first time when I was preparing for a Japanese proficiency test for foreigners which is held once a year by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Talking about this to Japanese friends, I recognized that almost everyone had experienced the ”examination hell“ and understands the situation of the protagonist Asaka Ichiro very well. In the book I printed the Japanese original as well as the translation into German by Katja Cassing. As the German and Japanese way of reading differ (German: left – right, Japanese: right – left) the book has two beginnings: the German text starts in ”front“, the Japanese in the ”back“. Both of them meet in the middle with the imprint. In addition to this each page of the German translation refers in color and content to its Japanese counterpart. The fonts I’ve used are Transit and Kozuka Gothic, both sans-serif fonts that are plain but not stiff. The continuous text is interrupted by examples of examination questions in a bold font. The text was printed by zinc-clichés in letterpress printing. Each double-spread page is under-layed with a pattern of stamps that in Japan are usually used to mark student homework. These marks range from ”Done very well“ to ”Normal“ up to ”Try harder“. I’ve reduced the original stamps so much that on the very first glimpse they give the impression of a wallpaper-like pattern and even the Japanese reader has to watch carefully to recognize the well-known stamps. Because of the thin Mitsumata paper the marks shine through the pages. Every single page is stamped by hand. To get the colors I had in mind, I mixed them from lithograph printing ink. The book is stitched with a Japanese binding and as a cord I used a twisted paper strip. The cover consists of Kozo cardboard with a thin layer of Ganpi paper giving a fine shine. I printed a pattern of one single stamp in the original size on it saying: “You have to try harder”. This stamp is the worst mark you can get in Japan and stands in contrast to the one I’ve used at the end of the text for the imprint (“good“). The book is kept in a case in the shape of an Omamori, charms that are sold at Shinto shrines. As a model I’ve used an Omamori from the Yushima Jinja shrine in Tokyo, a shrine which belongs to the Tenmangu sect, founded after the death of the scholar Sugawara Michizane (845-903). He is known as the saint of learning (Tenman Daijizai Tenjin order of: Tenjin-sama) and there are around 12000 shrines of the Tenmangu-sect in Japan, visited by countless students every year (Kangmin Zeng, Dragon Gate, London 1999, pg. 205-218). Instead of the normal charm for successful studying, I embroidered the title of the story on the case, thust going one step further than the normal charms by promising to supply a method of how to guarantee passing the examination.

Public Collections—Akademie der Bildenden Kuenste Wien, Vienna, Austria Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, Germany Klingspor-Museum, Offenbach, Germany New York Public Library, USA Urawa Art Museum, Urawa, Japan


Wurmzauber (Worm magic), 2002

Out of Print

Tokyo, 2002, 8 pages, Torinoko paper cut and mounted on red kozo paper, dyed with black Shoen ink. Printed in black by zinc-clichés. Torinoko cardboard cover, held together by red Kozo paper joints and dyed with black shoen ink. The pages are stitched to the cover. Slipcase covered with red polyester cotton fabric. Black gum label and thin gum stripes are glued on the slipcase. 13 x 33.5 cm., signed by the artist in an edition of 25 Arabic and 5 Roman numbered copies.


In this book I have used the Old Saxon version of the “Wurmzauber”, a magic charm from the ninth century. A worm that together with its brood causes a serious disease shall be expelled by this magic charm. Most probably, the disease referred to was consumption, because it was said to be transmitted by worms. The text is distributed generously on pages that first have been painted with black Chinese ink. Guards of red paper break up each page. They resemble folds that come about when a book is put up upright for a long time or used too many times. At the same time, these guards make it easier, but strange to flip through the pages. The red lines together with the black ink images appear very graphic, almost technical, and they let us think of a “worm illness” of our days: computer viruses. The four single quires are stitched to the Ganpi cardboard cover. This cardboard almost works like a hinge, because in the back, it is cut and folded. The box is made of red shiny fabric. The shining of the cover cloth and the mat gum lines repeat the contrast that already occurs in the lettering and ink images.

Public Collections—Akademie der Bildenden Kuenste Wien, Vienna, Austria Chapin Library, Williamstown, MA, USA Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Germany Frankfurter Universitaetsbibliothek, Franfurt, Germany Oeffentliche Bibliothek der Universitaet Basel, Switzerland Urawa Art Museum, Urawa, Japan


Triumph eines Hosenverkäufers (Triumph of a Trouser Salesman)

Out of Print

Constructed with the integrity and design qualities of a sophisticated piece of architecture this book is yet another exceptionally innovative masterpiece by Veronika Schapers.


In his text “Triumph of a Trouser Salesman”, the Berlin based author Heiko Michael Hartmann conveys the precarious situation of a customer who is forced by the sales person to buy a pair of trousers. He does not only get advice, but is pushed so much that he has the feeling of being the opponent in a boxing match. His aim is no longer to buy the trousers, but to escape from the scene. The text consists of twenty lines, each of which can stand alone, but also can be read together with the previous or following line and then gets a different meaning. Some words are even doubled, which lets the reader feel like jumping around. The way of reading underlines the contents of the text: the similarity of buying pants and being attacked in a boxing match.

The format of the book is a square, according to a boxing ring. The text is set in a square as well to mark the area where the boxers are moving. The book consists of 20 pages of clear foil, with one line of text and two boxers’ silhouettes on each page. The boxers are printed as red shadows and only become visible, when the pages are turned. When the pages are lying one above the other, the boxers fuse into a colored mass visualizing the movements. The single foils are stitched onto transparent gum cords that for their part give tension to the flexible plastic cover and symbolize the strings of a boxing ring. The bended cover is designed in a way that it pushes the spine of the book upwards, in order to make the book easy to open. To emphasize the transparency of the book, title and colophon are printed on a inflatable plastic cushion that serves as the case for the book. By being light-weighted, the cushion is corresponding with the glue-free binding of the book, and by its shape, it is corresponding to the profile of a sand sack. Cushion and book are wrapped in white paper felt, the same material we receive as wrapping in a store, when we buy really expensive clothes.

First edition Tokyo 2001, 10 Arabic numbered copies and three unnumbered Arabic numbered copies. Out of print. Second edition Tokyo 2002, 15 Arabic numbered copies and three Roman numbered Arabic numbered copies 20 pages with inkjet prints on clear polyethylene foil. Cover made of clear polycarbonate.

The pages are stitched on gum cords that also bend the cover. Inflatable aircushion with stamped title in red and imprint in black. White fleece bag. 23.5 x 21 cm. Signed by the artist and the author.

Collections—Arthur and Mata Jafffe Collection of Books as Aesthetic Objects, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, Germany Clark Library, University of California at Los Angeles, USA Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Germany Frankfurter Universitätsbibliothek, Franfurt, Germany Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany Klingspor-Museum, Offenbach, Germany Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna, Austria National Museum in Nuremberg Nationalbibliothek Luxemburg, Luxemburg University of California at Santa Barbara Urawa Art Museum, Urawa, Japan Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massuchusetts



Since 1998 Working as a free-lance artist in Tokyo/Japan
1997 & 1998, 9 months scholarship with Naoaki Sakamoto in Tokyo
1996 3 month scholarship, Centro del bel Libro, Ascona/Switzerland
1996 Diploma and founding of a3 with Frauke Otto and Susanne Nickel
1991 – 1996 Studied at the College of Art and Design “Hochschule für Kunst und Design Burg Giebichenstein”, Halle/Germany, specialized in painting and books
1988 –1991 Apprenticeship as a book binder
1988 Abitur
1969 Born in Coesfeld (Westphalia)/Germany

Scholarships and Awards

2003 Awarded with the innovation award „bel libro 2003“,
Ascona, Switzerland
1997 Scolarship of the Carl Duisberg Society, Germany
1997 Awarded by the Kunsthaus Guttenberg, Ahrenshoop, Germany
1996 Scolarship of the Centro del bel libro, Ascona, Switzerland
1995 Awarded at the bookbinding competition „Sierpapier“
of of the Royal Library, The Hague, Netherlands

Public Collections:

Akademie der Bildenden Kuenste Wien, Vienna, Austria
Arthur and Mata Jafffe Collection of Books as Aesthetic Objects, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, USA
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, Germany
Bookmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum, The Hague, Netherlands
Chapin Library, Williamstown, MA, USA
Clark Library, University of California at Los Angeles, USA
Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum, Leipzig, Germany
Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, Germany
Frankfurter Universitaetsbibliothek, Franfurt, Germany
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany
Hill Memorial Library, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
Klingspor-Museum, Offenbach, Germany
Lafayette College, Easton, PA, USA
Museum für angewandte Kunst (MAK), Vienna, Austria
Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich, Switzerland
National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea
Nationalbibliothek Luxemburg, Luxemburg
Oeffentliche Bibliothek der Universität Basel, Switzerland
Pratt Library, Brooklyn, NY, USA
The Royal Library, The Hague, Netherlands
The University of California at Santa Barbara, Art Library, California
Urawa Art Museum, Urawa, Japan
Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA

Be sure to visit Veronika's website

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