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Volunteers built a huge heart from photographs of pilgrim's hands

2016-07-27 / Festiwal Młodych


The final project “Hand by Hand” by Julien Touchard is being displayed at Plac Niepodległości. Volunteers and artists made a large installation – a gigantic heart made out of photographs of the hands of young people from around the world.

Julien Touchard began his work on his most recent project “Hand by Hand” in March. He decided to present the finished piece at the Youth Festival during WYD 2016. Pilgrims from around the world sent the artist photos of their hands Since July.

“Social media played a huge role in the gathering of the photographs. Pilgrims could send the pictures of their hands in an instant. If they were not young, they would not know about this project,” says Julien Touchard.

The main idea of the project is to show how artistic values continue to be important in today's world. These central values are God, mercy, and community, or the sharing of good energies. Through “Hand by Hand,” Touchard wants to allow people to both collaborate and co-create. This year's edition is the only one in a series of photographs of hands making the shape of a heart. At World Youth Day, the project takes on additional significance because it represents the value of this meeting of youth – love, oneness, and community.

Community through art

“The idea behind this is that what I do is the birth of a community with people, through art. I am glad that I can share this during World Youth Day in Krakow. This is a good occasion to present what I do to the pilgrims,” says Julien Touchard while preparing the finishing touches on “Hand by Hand.”

“Thanks to God, I am here in Poland today. This is a mission. I am very happy that people are simply coming to see the installation, and their reactions are important to me. I hope that many of them will come today, and maybe Pope Francis will see the installation from his plane,” adds the artist.

12,000 hands and more

In this year's edition of “Hand by Hand,” the heart was made from 12,000 pictures of hands. Julien Touchard points out, however, that one hand of a pilgrim can appear in more than one picture. The hands are not only on the pictures, but above all, they are in action. Upon their arrival to Poland, volunteers helped to prepare the artistic performance. First, they cut the hands out from the photographs, and since Tuesday they have built daily installations on Plac Niepodległości. Volunteers present at today's final show had to re-build a part of the installation that was ruined by yesterday's rain.

“This is the first time that I have worked with volunteers. I am very glad that I have been able to realize my ideas with this group. When I prepared my last performance, I was alone with my wife,” said Julien Touchard, praising his coworkers. “We have been preparing the installations with Julien every day since Tuesday. At first, we cut out pictures of hands from the photographs, but now, we have arranged them according to the project,” says volunteer Agata Kawczyńska while she helps build the heart. “Yesterday, everything was scattered due to the rain. Today we have to build the installation anew, but we can do it! This is an exhibition that is connected to the idea of World Youth Day and I hope that many will come to view it today and tomorrow,” she says.

International volunteers are also helping with the installation

“I really enjoy such projects and that is why I wanted to be involved. This project is a total symbol of performance, mainly because of the two famous hands of Adam and the Creator. The heart is a truly holy symbol and it signifies God’s mercy,” says Audrey Laures, a volunteer from France. “I think that this is a really beautiful performance that will inspire inner contemplation,” he adds.

The hands of pilgrims and the fresco of Michelangelo

The installation has two parts: large, printed hands from Michelangelo's well-known fresco “The Creation of Adam,” and a heart composed of photographs between the fingers of God and Adam. Julien Touchard says that the symbols of this year's installation have a strong connection to Christianity, the idea of creation and mercy.

The heart is co-created by everyone who sent a picture of their hand or helped in the building of the heart in Plac Niepodległości. The finished result may be viewed until Friday, 28 July (the end of the Youth Festival) in Plac Niepodległości between the 2:00pm and 4:00pm and 8:00pm-11:00pm. The artist highlights that the installation is best viewed at bird's eye level or from the top of a roof, from which photos can be taken.

Julien Touchard is a French artist and performer who is involved in the modern art scene. His greatest inspiration is God, whose words inspired him to create the project “Hand by Hand.”


Katarzyna Domagała
photos Grażyna Leja

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