I’m lucky enough to live relatively close to the wonderful Yorkshire Sculpture Park, but here’s an outdoor sculpture that’s a little further afield; in the middle of the desert in Chile, more than 45 miles from the nearest town.
Hand of the Desert rises from Chile’s Atacama desert
The lunar-esque landscape has been used by NASA for testing martian rovers, while its smooth sandy dunes draw surfers looking for a different kind of wave. By night, the sky is a kaleidoscopic wonder of constellations and attracts many a stargazer.
Driving through the desert can be disorienting, and, at first, weary travelers may mistake its most unusual monument for a mirage. It rears up from the ground as if a giant is drowning in quicksand, reaching an outstretched hand in a desperate last plea for help.
But on closer inspection, visitors will see that the “Mano del Desierto” — “Hand of the Desert” — is, in fact, very real.
It’s not the only one Mario Irarrázabal has created.
The hand may strike a solitary figure in the desert, but actually it’s part of a pair. It’s right counterpart sits in Uruguay. Built a decade earlier, in Punta del Este near the Atlantic Sea, an identical four fingers and thumb stretch for the skies, this time rising from the beach.
That hand seems not to have climbed out as far.
Here’s the Google map of the left hand in Chile, if you want to track it down for yourself.