Thursday, February 13, 2020

Readers Contributions continued: Graham E and Hands


Graham E, a regular contributor of things trivial (which is quite appropriate in that he is the Trivia Master at the trivia nights we go to once per week and is known as Mr Trivia) sent me an email as follows: 

Hi Mr O, 
Just came across a pic of a public sculpture featuring a human hand, then Lo and behold there is a world full of them......... 
Mano del Desierto, Atacama Desert, Chile 

Hand of Harmony, Cape Homi, South Korea 

Botero’s Hand, Madrid, Spain 

The Hand of Punta del Este, Uruguay 

Praying Hands, Tulsa, United States of America 

The Golden Bridge, Hải Châu, Vietnam 

The Caring Hand, Glarus, Switzerland 

Dramatic Hands, Venice, Italy 

Building Bridges, Venice, Italy 

Hands and Molecule, Ramsgate, United Kingdom 


Mr G 


Thanks Mr Trivia. 

Carrying the hands further (ha ha), the logical thing is to look at public art sculptures of fingers, plus some more hands. Here are some . . . 


Created by Italian artist Maurizio Castellan, this 4m/13 foot statue is located outside the Milan Stock Exchange. Called L.O.V.E., it is known colloquially as “the giant middle finger,” was created from Carrera marble in 2010 and was donated by Castellan to the city as long as it is displayed in the piazza. L.O.V.E. s an acronym for libertà, odio, vendetta, eternità (freedom, hate, revenge, eternity). A closer look shows all the other fingers have been chopped off. The hand was in the form of a Nazi salute and the remaining middle finger is meant to be an attack on fascism, the era of the piazza’s architecture. It can also be interpreted as the artist’s comment to the bankers and financiers who work inside the square’s buildings. 


In 2013 artist David Cerny floated a huge purple statue of an extended middle finger down the River Vltava in Prague. Mounted on a barge floating on the river, it was paused in front of Prague Castle, the seat of President Milos Zeman. The Czech parliament had been dissolved following weeks of turmoil in Czech politics, with elections taking place at the same time as Cerny sent his message. 


Dorothy Frankel’s sculpture, entitled Love 


“Shaping Hands”, Richmond BC 

“Open Hand, Open Mind, Open Heart” 
San Antonio, Texas 

“Quasi" in Wellington, New Zealand 


Tourists visiting the pretty Grote Markt of Antwerp in Belgium are always impressed by the extravagant 16th-century city hall and guildhalls that surround the historic main square. And then they take a closer look at the central fountain, which for those unfamiliar with local legend is quite a peculiar sight: a naked man in the act of throwing a huge severed hand. 

The Brabo Fountain (Brabofontein in Dutch) is a tribute to the mythical Roman soldier Silvius Brabo. According to legend, there was once a giant named Druon Antigoon who built a fortress along the Scheldt River. The giant forced passing boats to pay a toll, as well as anyone crossing the nearby bridge. If the travelers refused, Antigoon cut off one of their hands and tossed it into the river. 

The giant’s reign of extortion came to an end when Silvius Brabo sailed down river. He refused to pay the giant’s toll, and challenged the giant to a duel. Brabo was victorious, and chopped off the giant’s head as well as his hand, which he threw into the river just like the giant once did. 

According to folklore, the name Antwerp—or Antwerpen in Dutch— came from this very legend, with Antwerpen in Flemish and hand werpen in Dutch both meaning “hand throwing.” This has been contested by etymologists, but the legend nonetheless is much celebrated in the city, as evidenced by the fountain and Antwerp’s famous chocolate hands. 

The sculpture of Brabo depicts the soldier as he throws the giant’s hand in the river, water spouting out of the severed wrist like blood. Brabo stands on a tall pedestal decorated with an array of creatures, including fish, a sea lion, a turtle, a dragon-like monster and some mermaids holding up a castle, symbolizing Antwerp. And beneath the feet of Silvius Brabo is the severed head of the giant Antigoon, the slain scourge of the now liberated river. 

The statue was designed by the Belgian sculptor Jef Lambeaux and inaugurated in 1887. It was placed at the center of the Grote Markt, in a prime location in front of the city hall. Not only did it represent the legend of Silvius Brabo, it was also a symbolic celebration of the freeing of the Scheldt River. For more than a century, the Dutch had been demanding tolls from ships passing along the river, severely hampering the growth of Antwerp. Finally, in 1863, the Dutch stopped demanding tolls (with no dismemberment necessary), a cause for much celebration in Antwerp.

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