I am used to seeing horses in the centre of Vienna. The carriages are quite popular with tourists and they always hang around my university department’s library. But yesterday, on my way back home from yet another job interview I “stumbled” upon an unexpected kind of horse. This temporary sculpture near the Graben by french sculptor Julien Berthier depicts a horse, apparently falling apart and his similarly fragmental rider sitting on the ground next to it. It’s called Monumental break and it stands opposed to the numerous famous statues of warriors, riding into battle. Those are heroically upright and according to myth the position of the horse’s legs is indicative of the death of the rider – two legs off the ground – he died in battle, one – wounded in battle, all four legs on the ground and he died outside of battle.
But this rider isn’t going anywhere. If there was even a battle, it’s behind him. He’s taking the time to let his horse rest and sit down beside it. With this, the moment the statue shows is a private one and not historical. In the words of the French ambassador this makes the statue a monument of peace.
And all I could think about was that song by Nick Cave…
‘No’ said the moon that rose from his sleep
‘No’ said the cry of the dying sun
‘No’ said the planet as it started to weep
‘Yes’ said the rider and laid down his gun.