The Hand: The Whole Man in Miniature

Madelon Vriesendrop (Netherlands)

Galata Greek Primary School

“The hand is perhaps the most emotive part of our body. It is our ultimate vessel for communicating meaning. Our hands are unique to our species, ‘humanique,’ in that we have opposable thumbs. They allow us to use tools with great ease, which engenders in us the ability to experiment and form creative ideas of how to use those tools and to explore abstractly, to think abstractly and symbolise, and mix different combinations of ideas ‘promiscuously’ together beyond the objects we are manipulating… In palmistry the hand is a map for reading the pattern of one’s life and of one’s psyche… The hand communicates for us, encoding cultural and primordial dialogue. …Our hands are not the obedient servants of our minds, but rather reciprocal sources of ideas and creativity.” –MV


Madelon Vriesendorp’s mixed-media installation The Hand is part her larger investigation of the human body. Here she interprets the human hand not only as a structural anatomy, but also as a “thinking organ,” symbol, gesture, and conceptual tool. Known for her vast collections of figurines and tchotchkes of human body parts, Vriesendorp looks at the hand as a metaphor for giving, taking, controlling, punishing, and rewarding.