What’s With Those Huge Hands Rising Out of the Canals at the Venice Biennale?

The Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn is bringing the biennale’s attention to climate change with a giant sculpture emerging from Venice’s Grand Canal.

Courtesy of @neumarc

Though the Venice Biennale has been going strong for 122 years now, thanks to climate change it may not be doing so for too much longer. As a new report by the _New York Time_s revealed this week, the miles of ice collapsing from Antarctica’s ice sheet into the sea has the potential to raise sea levels by more than 100 feet—effectively submerging coastal cities like New York, Miami, and Shanghai.

Foremost, of course, there’s Venice, whose precarious position amidst a sea of canals means its 118 islands have already been facing flooding for centuries. And so, as a call to action, to highlight the growing threat the city is facing, the Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn gave the canals something of a voice: For his latest sculpture, Support, the artist has installed two oversized, resin-coated polyurethane foam hands reaching desperately from the Grand Canal to rest on the historic Ca’ Sagredo Hotel—both in an act of support and of desperation.

Both are based on the hands of Quinn’s son, only these are 5,500-pound versions. Each also digs deep into the canal, past two meters of water, eight meters of mud, and two meters of sand—an installation process that proved all the more difficult when water levels were higher than they were supposed to be. Though originally intended for the main biennale—which Quinn left his prints all over in 2011 with a similarly hands-based sculpture for the Italian Pavilion—Support ended up installed about 30 minutes away from the main pavilions after it wasn’t accepted, with Quinn taking care to arrange its exhibition dates to coincide exactly with those of the biennale. (He’s not the only one to capitalize on the influx of art-minded visitors; the same goes for Damien Hirst.) Not that that’s stopped the flood of ensuing Instagrams; soak the best of them up, here.

Related: The 6 Baldest Grabs for Attention at the 2017 Venice Biennale, from S&M Acts to 118-Foot-Tall Donald Trumps

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