For those of you who are not familiar with it, Trafalgar square is home to four plinths, one in each corner, approximately. Three of them have statues of George IV, Sir Charles Napier and Sir Henry Havelock on them. The fourth is, in my opinion, much more interesting. It hosts a rotation of works of art, and those of you who visited in the last year may have spotted an impressive blue cockerel standing proud on it. As of March 5, 2015, the resident artwork is the Gift Horse by Hans Haacke. It is a bronze sculpture of a horse skeleton, with a gift bow wrapped around one knee. The bow is also a rolling electronic display, with a live feed of share prices from the London Stock Exchange. I’ve read a few reviews of it, some raving about it, some more sceptical.
I personally think it is brilliant. The sculpture invites all sorts of interpretations, as art should. But the name says it all. The reference to the Trojan horse is deafening. The Gift Horse, is the one to “beware of”, for those of you with any trace of knowledge that has escaped the Juggernaut of modern education. The reference to modern economy, banking, the stock exchange and the ‘profits’ it brings is there. It is the bow, that makes it look like a gift. Never mind that all that is left of the gift horse is a skeleton everyone can see through now. It is dead. We take it for a horse because we recognise the skeleton’s shape. It was once a horse and horses are useful. This particular one is useful only if everyone decides to treat it like a horse. In order for that to happen, the first step is all important. A system is required to make people call it a horse.
My favourite part of this is that the artwork really comments on itself. This Gift Horse really needs to be on a pedestal in order to be seen as a horse and it does it. It needs to be there, hiding in plain sight, and it does it. It only needs to be one metaphorical inch away from real horses, so that people will take this as a real horse, and with the real horses an actual stone’s throw away at Horseguards Parade, it does that too. A wordplay within a metaphor. Magnificent.
P.S. This blogpost is brought to you by www.reikiinvictoria.com , my other lovechild which I thought I should shamelessly promote, using the blogpost as a gift horse 🙂 Feel free to visit and comment as always!