Chile’s Atacama Desert is a barren, sun-drenched landscape undisturbed by civilisation or wildlife. It’s eerily quiet, and the scorched sand is only interrupted by the sharp line of the Pan-American Highway that cuts right through it. But right in the middle there you’ll find something strange and beautiful – a sculpture of a hand that looks as if a giant was buried in a sandstorm.
The Mano del Desierto, or the Hand of the Desert, is a large-scale sculpture located an hours drive from the coastal Chilean town of Antofagasta. The protruding hand artwork was created by Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal. Built in the early ’80s and inaugurated in ’92, the sculpture is made from iron and concrete, and sits at an impressive 11 metres tall.
Irarrázabal has said he created the piece to reflect human struggle, vulnerability and helplessness, its exaggerated size speaking to the universality of human life.
Despite its isolation, the sculpture has become a destination in its own right. The Hand of the Desert if worth the detour, whether its to ponder the unique struggle of being human or just to get a killer Instagram shot.
Mano del Desierto is about a 14 hour drive north of Santiago, on South America’s west coast.
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