Building Bridges” is contemporary Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn’s most ambitious project to date. Six pairs of monumental hands bridge the basin of the Arsenale as both a symbol of our commonality and an expression of human aspiration. The project depicts six of humanity’s universal values – ‘Friendship’, ‘Faith’, ‘Help’, ‘Love’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Wisdom’ – each symbolised by human hands coming together to overcome differences and build a better world.

Famous as a city of connections through its canals and crossings, as an historic base of international trade, and as an ongoing hub of artistic exchange – Venice, a World Heritage Site with visitors from all over the globe, is an ideal place to spread a message of unity connecting societies, nations, communities and individuals through building bridges, not walls.


The solemnity of two palms touching gently but firmly creates a symmetry expressing a state of trust and support, based on mutual experience and looking ahead to a future together.


The meeting of hands young and old evokes knowledge and understanding crossing generations.


The connection of two hands symbolising both empathy and understanding in a state of physical, emotional and moral support that builds lasting relationships.


The grasp of a tiny hand clutching a parent’s fingers in blind faith is a reminder of the responsibility to nurture our younger generation to grow in confidence, self-worth and dependability.


The initial joining of interlaced fingers represents optimism for the future. Hope gives us the strength to persevere in worthwhile endeavours when all appears lost.


The tightly interlocked fingers suggest the intensity of bodies clinging to one another in passionate devotion; the physical manifestation of a state of being that is fundamental to us all.


Artist’s Impression:


Building Bridges” is composed of six pairs of monumental ‘stone’ hands ranging from 10 to 12 metres in height and 20 to 30 metres in width. Each pair of hands signifies a different ‘universal value’: ‘Friendship’ through palms touching; ‘Wisdom’ through youth and age; ‘Help’ represented through a clasp of mutual strength and restraint; ‘Faith’ through the hand of a child in the hand of an adult; ‘Hope’ through a first joining of interlaced fingers; and ‘Love’ through a passionate interlocking of hands.


The joining of hands symbolises our commonality, what we share and our ability to unite with an emphasis on bridging differences in all aspects of life – geographically, spiritually, philosophically, culturally and emotionally. The hands suggest a need for contact beyond self-interest, striving for human collaboration and unity. Quinn uses them to communicate complex emotions through a lexicon of gestures and touch, reflecting an ethos of connection and exchange through the language of art.


As part of the Venice Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, “Building Bridges” has been installed adjacent to the entrance of the Arsenale, a complex of twelfth-century shipyards in the Castello District of Venice. By using the Arsenale as a site for installation, the work draws a connection to the city and its history as one of the greatest trading powers in Europe, the Western end of the Silk Road trade route and a huge naval power. Its position today as a World Heritage City attracting tourists from all nations continues the city’s history as a meeting point of culture, and aligns with Quinn’s message of world unity.


Lorenzo says… 


“My art has always had a single objective, to communicate common universal values. We all share the same basic needs and wants. We all should share the same rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1948. 


Building Bridges celebrates humanity’s six universal values: Friendship, to build on the future together; Wisdom, to make mutually beneficial decisions; Help, to cement lasting relationships; Faith, to trust in your heart and self-worth; Hope, to persevere in worthwhile endeavours; and Love, the fundamental purpose for it all. Six pairs of joined hands symbolising our common needs and wants. 


Venice is a World Heritage City and it is the city of bridges. It is the perfect location to spread a message of world unity and peace so that more nations around the world build bridges with other nations rather than barriers and so that dialogue always prevails over conflict by enhancing what we have in common.


Let’s join hands for a united future.”