Für Margretha, Johanna, Sophia…

Temporary installation at the 13th arch of the Stone Bridge Regensburg


During her artist residency in Regensburg under the theme “HERITAGE TODAY / TOMORROW”, Katharina Cibulka was inspired by a video shown at the UNESCO World Heritage Visitor Centre Regensburg. The clip included the animation of a 16th century etching by Matthäus Merian depicting historic life – and death – on and around the historic Stone Bridge.

Here, at the 13th arch, so-called punishments by water took place until 1600. Sentences to death by drowning were most often applied to women. Having a child outside wedlock meant a life of poverty and shame.

Cibulka ties the practice of death sentences in the Middle Ages to the water rescue poles that can be found all along the Danube’s shores today. Two diametrically opposed perspectives on life come together in a large-scale sculpture, sitting heavily between two bridge arches. One end of the pole is transformed into a coat hanger – a symbol for a highly risky abortion method resorted to in the desperation of illegality.

Cibulka’s work juxtaposes the Middle Ages and present day while commenting on current debates on women’s bodily autonomy and safe reproductive rights.

“The life-saving ring at the end of the rescue pole turns into the frightening coat hanger that women are forced to resort to when physically and legally safe abortions are no longer available. These are acts of deepest desperation, a life-risking escape from a dilemma that leaves no other choice.”

With the kind support of the City of Regensburg and the Kulturfonds Bayern.

For more information, visit www.donumenta.de

Steel, varnished gold, 18 m long


Photo credits: Ferdinand Cibulka