At first a local scandal, now a tourist attraction: The scultpture Imperia
The scultpure Imperia, the king and the pope
A lady of nine meters, with few clothes, the Imperia, towers over the harbour of Constance. Her creator, the sculptor Peter Lenk, was inspired by Honoré Balzac's book „La belle Impéria“. The Imperia in Balzac's book is a courtisan, who stayed in Constance during the Church council (1414-1418)
, when a new pope was elected and the segregation of the catholic church ended. A quote from Balzac (my translation):
„The highest and the bravest courted her, one of her movements could cost a life, and even paragons of virtue did everything she wanted“
Very much in this sense sculptor Peter Lenk's Imperia holds a minuscule pope and the king/emperor in her hands.
There is not only a connection to literature in the sculpture, but to history as well. During the medieval church council in Constance, many prostitutes were in town.
The Imperia was put up in 1993 clandestinely at night. Before that, there was a lot of contoversy about the sculpture in the town council, there was a lot of
criticism about the satiric way the pope and the king were depicted. The adminstration of the bishop of Freiburg stated, that the sculpture was "without taste and could disturb the religious peace". There were some reports in the national media about this local contoversy.
The harbour of Constance with the Imperia.
Finally the town council of Constance couldn't prevent the Imperia from being put up. The harbour area is owned hy the "Deutsche Bundesbahn" (German Rail). And the company welcomed the Imperia.
At daytime the Imperia turns once in three minutes around it's own axis.
And meanwhile the 18-ton sculpture has become a real landmark of Constance and no one would dare to demand to remove it any more.