Puma and Benetton: emblems of youth as well as of skateboarding, rapping, and surfing. A small boy, hung with the insignia of trash culture, sits on a mule and rides boldly through the park. Every once in a while the animal brays. An escapee from a comic strip or an animated film, brightly painted and cheekily presented, the urchin becomes a symbol of the zeitgeist, a temporary monument to the here and now—and it is no coincidence that it is placed near the Feuchtwanger School. While the children there, however, have to bone up on mathematics and Latin, their fellow student has gone out to explore the great, wide world—a modern nomad who appears to be as absurd and unworldly as he is sympathetic and hopeful.
The Düsseldorf artist Pia Stadtbäumer has provocatively contrasted the motif of the classic, figural equestrian statue—the pompous presentations of Ludwigs and Leopolds on the squares of Munich—with her monument to the topicality of the moment: the monotony of marble and bronze contrasted with colorful paint, the purebred horse with the simple mule, the dignified pose with gawky informality, the traditional insignia of power (sword, uniform, scepter) with ordinary symbols of youth culture, such as the ghetto blaster and the skateboard. Yet, there is also something directly tragic about the boy’s carefree cheer. Even though this modern Don Quixote has the self-confidence of Max and Maurice, we also know how those two troublemakers ended up: “Master Miller! Hallo, man! Grind me that, as quick as you can! ‘In with ‘em!’ Each wretched flopper / Headlong goes into the hopper. As the farmer turns his back / he hears the mill go ‘creaky crack!’ Here you see the bits post-mortem / just as Fate was pleased to sort ‘em.” Still, the joyful light-heartedness of this youth and his relaxed, casual seated pose, his belongings symbolizing the autonomy he has dreamed of, the hat jauntily pushed back on his head, and his brash, forward-looking gaze are self-confident, trusting signs of the future of a journey that has just begun: Go!