New Zealand giant hand sculpture: Nightmare or funny?


Explore Wellington, New Zealand with Tripfilms filmmaker tobyandtamar.

There an eye-catching new sculpture of a giant hand — with a face on it — in Wellington, New Zealand, and it’s receiving mixed reviews. 

The work, called “Quasi,” is by Ronnie Van Hout of Melbourne, Australia, and was made in 2016 to sit atop the Christchurch Art Gallery after a 2011 earthquake. On Sunday, it made its debut on City Gallery Wellington’s roof, and it will stay there for up to three years.

The meaning of the piece lies in the name itself; “Quasi means ‘apparently, but not really,’ ‘pseudo,’ ‘ ‘fake.’ It’s also a nod to Quasimodo, the deformed bellringer in Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.’ Misshapen and misunderstood, he turned out to be a great tragic-romantic hero—a beautiful soul,” according to a description on the City Gallery Wellington’s website.

Not everyone has embraced the sculpture, however. Christchurch art critic Warren Feeney panned the sculpture when it was at Christchurch Art Gallery and wrote a piece called “Ten Reasons Why Christchurch Art Gallery’s Quasi Must Go.”

It’s received mixed reviews so far, at least on social media.

Twitter user Marianne Elliott wrote: “Decided to go see Ronnie van Hout’s ‘Quasi’ for myself. I’m not sure I can entirely explain why but this pompous-looking, puffy, pale stale & male hand-person made me laugh out loud. And something that makes me laugh is a welcome addition to my urban wanderings.”

“Well… this is the sort of thing nightmares are made of,” a Twitter user wrote. “This giant, creepy face hand is at Civic Square in Wellington, New Zealand.”

The sculpture has already inspired memes, and one Twitter user compared it to Marvel villain Thanos.

That’s not to say everyone was freaked. One user wrote: “What’s wrong with a hand with a face on it? It’s cool, alternative, out there and actually quite funny!”

Christchurch already isn’t the same.

“I used to drive past Quasi every day,” journalist Charlie MItchell wrote. “It was like seeing an old friend who happened to be a disgusting hand-creature solemnly watching over the west end for reasons unknown. The commute hasn’t felt the same since.”

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