Chile’s Bizarre Hand In The Desert Has A Magnificent Secret

The Chilean Atacama Desert stretches around 60 miles along the Pacific Coast and is one of the driest places on Earth.

It receives less precipitation than the polar deserts. It is in the middle of such wilderness that Chilean figurative sculptor Mario Irarrazabal created his most famous work, the Hand-in-the-Desert.

Irarrazabal always favors an openness of expression and candor in his works. His works represent and emphasize helplessness and vulnerability. Whether prone, seated, or reclining. Or standing, his sculptors are also characterized by an expression of determination.

Ever since the early beginning of the Land Art movement in the 1960s, artists around the world have installed artwork at various places in the world. They are visible against a backdrop of high mountains, desolate deserts, and deep in the seas.

Deserts, in particular, have enabled artists to give free rein to their imagination. It provided them with the natural materials, the space, and the milieu to create and exhibit new works.

Hand-In-The-Desert: A Sight More Disconcerting That The Stark Unreal Atacama Desert

Deep in the Atacama Desert, 75 kilometers south of the city of Antofagasta, an unexpected and strange sight emerges on the skyline. to his, Hand-in-the-Desert resembles the palm of a sunken giant who was buried by a massive sandstorm.

From the desert sand emerge the giant fingers and the upper part of the palm. The stark image of the sculpture stands out against the magnificent azure sky of the desert. It is referred to as Mano de Desierto in Spanish or Hand-in-the-desert. It’s that type of architecture that grabs you and never lets you go.

The desert had already inspired Irarrazabal, and he designed, built, and installed the hand-in-the-desert. The colossal sculpture represents the finger that appears to be that of a man drowning.

The material that the artist used was mainly concrete. The Hand-in-the-desert is reinforced with a metal net and steel rods that are coated with an erosion-resistant synthetic material.

Mario Irarrazabal, a Chilean by birth, decided on the Atacama Desert when he attended a sculpture workshop in Uruguay. While other artists decided on urban settings, Irarrazabal decided on the desert’s stark but beautiful background to develop his artwork.

Trained under Otto Waldermar, the German sculptor, he has constantly dwelled on the human feature. And through it, he has expressed sorrow, loneliness, helplessness, injustice, and torment.

His achievement was instantly recognized worldwide and its expressiveness was such that it was instantly referred to as the Monument to the Drowned, or The Hand (La Mano). It remains in the place it was erected though other creations have long been forgotten with time.

The Hand-in-the-desert had a worldwide impact and Irarrazabal created copies of it and placed it in other backdrops around the world, including Venice and Madrid. He also made a copy for his homeland in Chile. It stands out vividly against the golden sand, creating an eerie feeling.

The Creator Of Hand-In-The-Desert Loves To Create Tangible Objects

Irarrazabal says that he likes to create a real and tangible object that will last a lifetime. He says that he constantly dreams and thinks of making new things. He speaks of the magical and primitive force behind a good sculpture.

He looks for the magical dimension of the real, and not the esoteric. He creates an object and tries to relate it to others. He speaks of a contrast and a metaphor that both startles and suggests.

For Irarrazabal, the medium of art is the most appropriate way to express the meaning of hatred and suffering, abandonment of love, and life and death. He speaks of the open and metaphorical nature of the language of art. It opens up a world to us when we present ourselves. For him, art is something playful, loving, and free, and something that enchants us and compels us to marvel at it.

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