New Zealand’s ‘Terrifying’ and ‘Monstrous’ Sculpture Gives Nightmares to Passers-by

New Zealand’s capital has just welcomed ‘Quasi’, a giant hand-shaped sculpture which stands on a gallery’s roof – and which hasn’t necessary won the hearts of all inhabitants.

Image © City Gallery Wellington
Image © City Gallery Wellington

The Guardian has recounted the "monstrous" vision of a five-meter high sculpture on the roof of a gallery in Wellington, New Zealand's capital.

The monumental work was deposited by helicopter onto the roof of an art gallery located in the northern island of the country. The giant hand-shaped sculpture, called Quasi, has a masculine face in the middle of his ‘palm’, and it is this hybrid aspect, among others, which seriously worries passers-by. Although the resemblance to US President Donald Trump is striking, the work was not designed to resemble him. Created in 2016 by the contemporary artist Ronnie van Hout, a resident of Melbourne, the work is in fact a "partial self-portrait", produced from scans of parts of the artist’s body. “It’s as if ‘the hand of the artist’ has developed a monstrous life of its own,” reads the gallery’s website of the gallery.

Image © City Gallery Wellington
Image © City Gallery Wellington

Quasi came into being following the 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch – a city also famous for being the artist’s birthplace. The sculpture was exhibited there, on the roof of Christchurch Art Gallery, before heading to the capital in August 2019. City Gallery Wellington is hosting the work for a period of three years, but only moments after its installation, the sculpture already faced unfavourable judgment of passers-by.

Supposedly a reference to Victor Hugo's Quasimodo, the work provoked many comments on social networks: "disturbing", "an ugly and malicious installation", "Lovecraftian nightmare". Passers-by seem to be wary of both the sculpture’s hybrid appearance and its resemblance to the President of the United States. A resident of Christchurch who "felt judged by this guy crossing Cranmer Square every morning" even enjoyed seeing the sculpture go to another city to "stare at the souls of other people". 

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