Christchurch’s massive hand sculpture Quasi is moving to Wellington. Refusing to be palmed off, Emily Writes set out to learn his story.
I heard him before I saw him. He was awkwardly trying to get into the Mojo (you know the one on Courtenay next to the one on Dixon that’s next to the one on Willis Street next to the one on Lambton Quay) and I heard smashing glass and chaos and then one index finger.
I should have considered that a giant hand might struggle to get inside a café. Quasi, the creation of sculptor Ronnie van Hoult, is five metres tall. Café doors are generally not that large. I apologised profusely but he didn’t want to discuss the incident further. We crouched down in the gutter next to Tommy Millions Pizza.
Emily Writes: Do I pronounce your name Quasi?
Quasi: I actually prefer Gigantic Hand to be honest. Quasi is my birth name but nobody really calls me that. Only my dad does. I hate him.
Ronnie van Hout? You look like him.
Well I don’t, because I’m just a hand and he has a whole body.
I mean like, the face.
My face? Are you trying to be funny?
I’m sorry, we got off on the wrong foo-
Fuck you lady. If you’re going to mock me I’m calling time on this. I don’t need publicity. I’m five fucking feet tall.
I’m sorry, truly. I don’t want this to get out of han-
Excuse me? EXCUSE ME?
Please, sorry, let’s start again. How do you like Wellington? Have you been here long?
Wellington sucks. I am basically homeless. I’ve been on Vic Deals every day and I can’t get a rental. I can’t even stay at a hostel. It’s discrimination.
Yes, we do have housing problems. But to be fair you’re also a gigantic polystyrene resin hand.
So I don’t have feelings? Is that what you’re saying? I’m not a real person? What makes a person? Do I need to have legs and a torso to be of any value? I have a conscience. Do you know what that’s like?
Wow, I’m sorry. I didn’t realise. To be honest I just was on deadline and I wanted to make fun of you for clicks.
This is what’s wrong with the media today. You’re all part of the Woke Extreme Left. It’s all outrage. You make fun of people. You fight for equality but where’s support for gigantic hands? What have you ever done for me? This is clickbait. Churnalism. Gutter media! The Spinoff? More like The Shitoff.
I don’t know what to say. I definitely think you should have rights as a gigantic hand. I just didn’t know this was a pressing issue.
He stole me.
You want to know my story?
At this point in the interview we had a break. The Gigantic Hand tries to fold himself over while crying but can’t. He becomes angry and kicks one of the Courtenay Place standing artworks and it takes some time for him to calm down.
Are you ready to continue?
He made so many of us.
He just kept making hands.
Each hand as bigger than the next.
It just wouldn’t stop.
My mother – she was a hand.
And he sent her away.
He sent her to live on top of a museum in Brussels.
My sister – she was also a gigantic hand.
She was taken in the dead of night and now she’s in South Australia on top of an Ikea. She’s just decoration.
I didn’t want to live in Christchurch. They drugged me and I woke up and I was on top of the Christchurch Art Gallery.
People took photos of me – I was naked. It wasn’t right. They thought just because I’m a gigantic hand I have no genitals that I don’t need clothes but it’s the principle though right? That’s how they’ve dehumanised me.
They took me away from my hand people.
I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say.
And now I’m here. And I’ll be mounted on top of the Wellington City Gallery. And you’ll take photos like the scum you are.
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
Is there anything we can do to support you?
What do you think? It’s done. I have no life now. I exist just for you. I’m “art”. You know what art is? It’s pornography for clever people. You’re sick. You make me sick and I wish you could see what I’ve seen.
I wish you could hear the cries of the hands in the night as they were stolen and taken to be placed on top of museums and galleries.
How can you see that and just ignore their anguished cries?
Dying is an art. Like everything else, I do it exceptionally well. I do it so it feels like hell. I do it so it feels real. I guess you could say I have a call.
That’s really powerful Gigantic Hand I-
It’s Sylvia Plath you dead shit.
I don’t feel like this interview is going well. Maybe we should just end it there. I really hope you find a place and I hope that Wellingt-
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DEATH. BRING ME DEATH. I CANNOT DIE.
For many a time I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!”
Oh pretty. Is that Rupi Kaur?
And with that the Gigantic Hand walks off towards the bucket fountain, tears welling its eyes which are in its hand, smoking a pipe with its mouth which is also in its hand.
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