Huge Hands Rise Out of Venice’s Waters to Support the City Threatened by Climate Change: A Poignant New Sculpture

Upon arriv­ing in Venice in the late 1930s, colum­nist and Algo­nquin Round Table reg­u­lar Robert Bench­ley imme­di­ate­ly sent a telegram back home to Amer­i­ca: “Streets full of water. Please advise.” The line has tak­en its place in the canon of Amer­i­can humor, but in more recent times the image of water-filled streets — unin­ten­tion­al­ly water-filled streets, that is — has arisen most often in the con­ver­sa­tion about cli­mate change. Some of the poten­tial dis­as­ter sce­nar­ios envi­sion every major coastal city on Earth even­tu­al­ly turn­ing into a kind of Venice, albeit a much less pleas­ant ver­sion there­of.

And so what bet­ter place than the one that hosts per­haps the world’s best known art exhi­bi­tion, the Venice Bien­nale, to express cli­mate-change anx­i­ety in the form of pub­lic sculp­ture? “Venice is known for its gon­do­las, canals, and his­toric bridges,” writes Condé Nast Trav­el­er’s Sebas­t­ian Modak, “but vis­i­tors will now also be greet­ed by anoth­er, albeit tem­po­rary, reminder of the city’s inti­mate rela­tion­ship with water: a giant pair of hands reach­ing out of the Grand Canal and appear­ing to sup­port the walls of the his­toric Ca’ Sagre­do Hotel.” The piece is called Sup­port, and it’s cre­at­ed by Barcelona-based Ital­ian sculp­tor Loren­zo Quinn.

“I have three chil­dren, and I’m think­ing about their gen­er­a­tion and what world we’re going to pass on to them,” Quinn told Mash­able’s Maria Gal­luc­ci. “I’m wor­ried, I’m very wor­ried.” The hands of his 11-year-old son actu­al­ly pro­vid­ed the mod­el for the polyurethane-and-resin hands of Sup­port, weigh­ing 5,000 pounds each, that stand on 30-foot pil­lars at the bot­tom of the Grand Canal. Modak quotes one of Quin­n’s Insta­gram posts which describes the work as speak­ing to the peo­ple “in a clear, sim­ple and direct way through the inno­cent hands of a child and it evokes a pow­er­ful mes­sage, which is that unit­ed we can make a stand to curb the cli­mate change that affects us all.”

Those argu­ing in favor of more aggres­sive polit­i­cal mea­sures to coun­ter­act the effects of cli­mate change have gone to great lengths to point out what forms those effects have so far tak­en. But the fact that, apart from a stretch of hot sum­mers, few of those effects have yet man­i­fest­ed unde­ni­ably in most peo­ple’s lives has cer­tain­ly made their job hard­er. But nobody who vis­its Venice dur­ing the Bien­nale could fail to pause before Sup­port, a work whose visu­al dra­ma demands a reac­tion that tem­per­a­ture charts or data-filled stud­ies can’t hope to pro­voke by them­selves. And even apart from the issue at hand, as it were, Quin­n’s sculp­ture reminds us that art, even in as deeply his­tor­i­cal a set­ting as Venice, can also keep us think­ing about the future.

via Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Glob­al Warm­ing: A Free Course from UChica­go Explains Cli­mate Change

132 Years of Glob­al Warm­ing Visu­al­ized in 26 Dra­mat­i­cal­ly Ani­mat­ed Sec­onds

Music for a String Quar­tet Made from Glob­al Warm­ing Data: Hear “Plan­e­tary Bands, Warm­ing World”

A Song of Our Warm­ing Plan­et: Cel­list Turns 130 Years of Cli­mate Change Data into Music

How Cli­mate Change Is Threat­en­ing Your Dai­ly Cup of Cof­fee

Frank Capra’s Sci­ence Film The Unchained God­dess Warns of Cli­mate Change in 1958

Watch Episode 1 of Years of Liv­ing Dan­ger­ous­ly, The New Show­time Series on Cli­mate Change

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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