Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article image'The Desert Hand' — A tribute to victims of torture and injustice Special

By Igor I. Solar     Jul 4, 2013 in Entertainment
Antofagasta - In the middle of the Atacama Desert, in a parched and forsaken region, a giant hand comes out of the ground. It is a sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal representing the victims of injustice and torture during the military regime in Chile.
The Atacama Desert is probably one of the driest places on the planet. It occupies an area of over 100,000 square kilometers between the Pacific coast and the heights of the Andes. While on the coast there are areas with abundant cloud banks, locally known as “camanchaca” (low fog), there are places in the desert where it has not rained in ages. Some weather stations installed in the desert have not seen a drop of rain for decades.
In a region about 100 kilometers south of Antofagasta, at an altitude of about 3,000 meters above sea level (MASL), the terrain has been compared to that of Mars. In 2003, a team of researchers published a study where they reported the duplication of tests used by the Viking 1 and Viking 2 Mars landers to detect life. They were unable to detect any signs of DNA, not even bacteria, in samples of Atacama Desert soil.
More recently, starting in June, 2013, NASA has been testing a new solar-powered vehicle that will probe beneath the arid surface of the Atacama Desert in search of microbes. The four-wheeled explorer, named Zoe, is expected to help NASA choose the best instruments for its next rover, which is planned to travel to Mars in 2020.
View of the Pan-American Highway (Route CH-5) which runs for about 1000 km along the Atacama Desert ...
View of the Pan-American Highway (Route CH-5) which runs for about 1000 km along the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The terrain in this region has been compared to that on Mars.
Therefore, in a region so dry and desolate in the middle of the desert, it is surprising to see a giant hand coming out of the ground. It is a sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal, unveiled in 1992 at a location 75 kilometers south of the city of Antofagasta, at an altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level, and 350 meters away from Route 5 which crosses the Atacama Desert plateau from north to south.
The sculpture was constructed in iron and cement and is 11 meters high. Its construction was funded by a local organization, Pro Antofagasta Corporation (PROA). Unfortunately the sculpture is continuously targeted by graffiti, which requires frequent maintenance and cleaning.
The huge hand coming out of the desert represents the victims of injustice and torture during the mi...
The huge hand coming out of the desert represents the victims of injustice and torture during the military dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990).
Mario Irarrázabal studied philosophy and art at the University of Notre Dame, IN, United States; theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and sculpture with the German sculptor Otto Waldemar in West Berlin. In his works, Irarrázabal uses the human figure “to express themes such as injustice, loneliness, sorrow and torture”. According to the author, the huge hand coming out of the desert represents the victims of injustice and torture during the military dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990).
Bikers take advantage of the shadow projected by the giant  Hand of the Desert .
Bikers take advantage of the shadow projected by the giant "Hand of the Desert".
The impressive sculpture is continuously targeted by graffiti  which requires frequent maintenance a...
The impressive sculpture is continuously targeted by graffiti, which requires frequent maintenance and cleaning. Unfortunately, soon after it's cleaned, it is attacked again.
Mario Irarrázabal has several similar sculptures on display at various locations around the world. One of them is at Brava Beach in Punta del Este, Uruguay (The Hand, 1982); another hand comes out of the ground at Juan Carlos I Park in Madrid, Spain (1987). A third large hand was exhibited in one of the waterways of Venice from 1995 to 2000.
“By creating an object I attempt to relate with others. I seek to create a contrast, a metaphor that surprises and suggest. I attempt to say something about the meaning of life and death, hatred and suffering, giving to others: love. For this, there is no language more appropriate than art.” (Mario Irarrázabal).
More about Desert Hand, Atacama desert, Antofagasta chile, Sculpture, giant sculpture
More news from Show all 6
Entertainment Video
Latest News
Top News