Veronika Schaepers, “Im Hochhaus (In the High-Rise)”

Closed Book, wrapped with printed Gecko-Tape, stored in an acrylic box


The different parts of the Book: Gecko-Tape, silkscreen-printed fraud-list on GA-File-paper, silkscreen-printed case with the house of Mr. Sogen Kato, acrylic case

Open fraud-list (Ga-File) with wrapped text-spreads (Ganpi-paper)

Open fraud-list with three wrapped text-spreads and two open text-pages


Detail of half-round punch-outs holding the wrapped text spreads


Artist: Veronika Schaepers (Berlin, Germany)

Title: Im Hochhaus (In the High-Rise)

Medium/technique(s): 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.

Edition size: 36 Arabic numbered and 4 Roman numbered copies

Number of pages: 5 double spreads

Dimensions, open: 37 x 103cm

Dimensions, closed: 37 x 15 x 1cm


Artist Statement:

The idea for this book is based on a radio report of July 29, 2010, that told about finding a mummified corpse 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 health insurance regularly, but her mother had not been seen since 1986. A systematic 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 wrongly registered centenarians and 400 cases of pension fraud were uncovered until the end of the year, which led to great disconcert 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.