Let’s make an imagination exercise. Close your eyes and picture yourself in front of a spectacular sculpture, with beautiful textures and the colors you like the most. The shapes are determined by your mind, what do you see, is it a person, an animal, or something indescribable? Whatever the result, it is beautiful and floods your senses with a sense of tranquility. Now it’s time to open your eyes (hypothetically of course), the sculpture is simply gone and it’s not that it doesn’t exist, you saw it yourself, the point is that it is invisible. This is the concept behind the work of Italian artist Salvatore Garau, except that he has auctioned his prized invisible sculpture for 18,000 dollars.
For as long as conceptual art has existed, its essence has flooded the minds of critics who question whether what is appreciated is really art and has caused controversy across the globe. But after a history of works loved by many and rejected by many others, conceptual art is now at its peak thanks to Salvatore Garau.
A space full of energy
The 67-year-old Italian artist has just achieved what no artist has ever achieved before and that is to sell an invisible sculpture for 15 thousand euros (about 18 thousand dollars). The work entitled Io sono (I am) is not precisely that it does not exist, but that it is immaterial. According to Garau himself, the sculpture is constructed of “air and spirit” so it could not be said to be mere ‘nothing’, since “emptiness is space full of energy”. His work, rather than banal non-existence of matter, is “energy that is condensed and transformed into particles. That is, in us,” explains the artist.
Initially, the auction house Art-Rite had priced the work between 6,000 and 9,000 euros. However, as the auction progressed, the buyers raised its value to 15,000 euros. The buyer took home an invisible sculpture and a certificate of authenticity. As well as instructions from the artist himself to place the work of art. The piece, according to its creator, must be installed in a private home, in a space of 1.50 x 1.50 meters.
But this is not the first invisible sculpture that the Italian artist exhibits in art galleries. Previously Garau had already installed invisible works in Milan’s emblematic Piazza Della Scala. There, he installed Buddha in contemplation, framed by a picture of masking tape drawn on the ground. And in New York, in front of the Stock Exchange, he also placed Aphrodite weeping. To exhibit his works he has not had the greatest inconvenience. That is perhaps the greatest benefit of the fact that they are invisible, since he does not have to have permits to do so.
Garau, with his argument that his sculptures do exist, only that they live in the imagination of their viewers, shows us that conceptual art is reaching its highest point. Although whether or not this juncture is beneficial to the aesthetic experience is up to each viewer to decide. In the end, that is what art is all about, discovering the feelings that a work of art awakens in us, positive or negative, that is up to each one of us.
Story originally published in Ecoosfera