Winner Bastille 2021

"Blessing to Misfortune"

At the Bastille, the artists will tell the story of the ill-fated maid and child murderer Johanna Catharina Höhn, who was imprisoned at this place with high probability until her death by beheading on the 28th of November 1783. In doing so, they want to draw attention to comparable tragic stories of young women who once murdered their newborn children out of desperation and under great social pressure.

For their projection on the Bastille, they use disjointed facade-like panels similar to those of a graphic novel.


John Tettenborn is a Berlin-based Motion Designer specializing in Motion Graphics for Projection Mapping Animations. He has a long experience working for Agencies, mainly with the RE:SORB Collective.

Kourtney Ross is a Berlin-based composer and Violinist. She studied at the world renowned contemporary music school, Berklee College of Music in Boston (Massachusetts, USA) and has a Bachelor of Music in Contemporary Writing and Production.

RE:SORB is an artist collective based in Berlin. They have more than 15 years of experience working for agencies, art festivals and clients alike. Their artworks have been projected on the Brandenburg Gate, German presidential office, Victory column in Berlin, Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Torre Latinoamericana in Mexico City.

Trailer Bastille "Blessing to Misfortune"

About the location

The walls of the Bastille ensemble of buildings have the rugged charm of a medieval defensive structure as well as the characteristically wild tectonics of a complex that has been expanded over a matter of centuries. The buildings have been in uninterrupted use for more than five hundred years, and to this day the electoral coat of arms is emblazoned above the gatehouse, a symbol of the Ernestine dynasty's unbroken claim to the dignity of elector, long after this power was lost.

For a long time, this gatehouse was also the home of the sovereign court and administration. The detention chambers, some still equipped with benches and anchor loops for the iron shackles, are in the cellar. The most prominent detainee was most likely Johann Sebastian Bach, and there is a high probability that the ill-fated maid and child murderer Johanna Catharina Höhn was held here until her execution by beheading on 28 November 1783. The views of the still young Enlightenment and its protagonists – in particular Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who had only recently arrived in Weimar – were severely put to the test by this historical criminal case. The Duke Carl August envisaged such draconian punishments for the young maid that the “Secret Consilium” of the Weimar principality instead recommended the death penalty as a more compassionate alternative. On the day, 300 soldiers were required to secure the public execution against the anger of the public.

We can only guess at the number of tragedies and fortunes that have played out in this ensemble over the centuries. On the other side of these storied walls, the courtyard side will be a perfect backdrop for transporting the Genius Loci audience to times long past.

Use of the photos of the location only with photo credits: © Henry Sowinski, Genius Loci Weimar 2021