An invisible artwork sold for 15,000 euros. Yes, it was done. Salvatore Garau, from Italy, put the work Io sono — I am — up for auction. A work that cannot be seen, for the simple fact that it is not there, it does not exist. Or maybe yes – when it comes to art, you know, the matter is always more complex than usual. And if it is true that art, like truth, is in the eye of the beholder, and dust we are and dust we shall return, well, in the meantime, Garau won.
Io sono was sold at auction, at the Art-Rite house in Milan, with an initial estimate of 6-9,000 euros. The buyer simply receives a certificate of authenticity and instructions — exactly as it was for Maurizio Cattelan’s famous banana. The instructions provide that the work must be exhibited only in a private setting of about 1.5 x 1.5 meters, where there are no obstacles.
Of course, the news aroused a lot of indignation, even out of the art magazines. Many people wondered how it is possible to spend 15,000 euros for a sculpture that is not there. But Garau defended itself by saying that he wasn’t so original, in the end. “There is already too much of nothing being sold for something, and nobody pays any attention to it,” he said. He says he feels like David against Goliath, as his works are a content of thought in constant fluctuation, of pure poetry, and would go in the opposite direction to NFTs, which are sold for millions of dollars and are strongly polluting and contrary to his ethic as an artist.
Born in 1953, in Santa Giusta, Sardinia, Salvatore Garau is not so new to this kind of work. He exhibited other invisible sculptures like the Buddha in Contemplation, in Piazza della Scala, Milan, a square made of chalk delimiting the precise point of the sculpture, or Aphrodite Crying, a circle of white adhesive tape in the clearing in front of the New York Stock Exchange building: the work “is” above the empty circle.
“As music, song or prayer help us to see what we do not see,” the artist explains, “so even just a title is enough to make us see and perceive an existence.”