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Why There Is a Massive Pair of Hands Rising From a Venice Canal

Venice — a city known for its romantic gondolas, its influential artwork, its astounding architecture. And more recently, a city that will be be one of the first to go under water within the century if the rising sea levels aren’t halted.

That’s why when contemporary Italian sculptor, Lorenzo Quinn, was looking for a space for his new installation called “Support” that calls attention to the threat of global warming, he chose the canals of this ancient city.

According to a press release from Halcyon Gallery, “Support” is meant to symbolize the two sides of human nature: the side that can destroy the world, and the side that can save it.

Quinn erected the sculpture of the two large hands emerging from the Grand Canal, holding up the historic building of the Ca’Sagredo Hotel during this year’s Venice Biennale, a long-running international art exhibition.

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“I wanted to sculpt what is considered the hardest and most technically challenging part of the human body,” he explained. “The hands hold so much power — the power to love, to hate, to create, to destroy.”

He made the sculpture in his Barcelona studio using a metal structure and expanded foam. The millenia-old method known as “lost-wax casting” took around three weeks to complete, according to Mashable.

The hands themselves are modeled after his 11-year-old son’s.

“I have three children, and I’m thinking about their generation and what world we’re going to pass on to them,” he told Mashable. “I’m worried, I’m very worried.”

A study published this March in Quaternary International predicted that if global warming isn’t curbed within the coming decades, the Mediterranean sea will rise by 55 inches by 2100 and all of Venice could be gone.

But Venice isn’t the only destination threatened by a warming planet. France’s Rhone Valley, Florida’s Key West, India’s Mumbai, Alaska’s Kivalina, and the Maldives are also on the growing list of disappearing places.

Scientists say that if global warming exceeds 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit — a level well above pre industrial levels — roughly 80% of the world’s coastlines could be drastically changed by rising seas.

Other artists in the past have also created work that makes the climate change conversation a priority.

Spanish street artist, Isaac Cordal, created sculptures of men dressed in grey business suits and installed them in moats around Nantes, France. The project was dubbed “Waiting for Climate Change.”

In several regions around the world Naziha Mestaoui’s “One Beat One Tree” project projects virtual forests into city spaces. The digital trees grow in rhythm with a viewer’s heartbeat if he or she is connected to the series through a smartphone sensor. Since its launch, the project has ignited the growth of 13,000 trees.

Although “Support” comes as a warning, the artist said it’s also meant to elicit hope.

Quinn said that the monumental structure “wants to speak to the people in a clear, simple, and direct way through the innocent hands of a child and it evokes a powerful message, which is that united we can make a stand to curb the climate change that affects us all.”