Many critics of contemporary art have described conceptual works as “the emperor’s new clothes,” saying that it’s all hype and no substance.
Italian artist Salvatore Garau has challenged that criticism by creating a “sculpture” that doesn’t exist at all — and selling it for just under £13,000.
The work, entitled 'I am', comes with some strict rules about how it’s to be stored and displayed.
The buyer of the completely non-existent artwork must keep it in a private house within a five-foot square space that’s free from any obstructions.
The buyer will also need to find somewhere to store their certificate of authenticity, which is the only tangible proof that Garau’s work exists.
The €15,000 ‘“immaterial sculpture” very real to the artist though.
He explains: “The successful outcome of the auction testifies to an irrefutable fact – he void is nothing but a space full of energy, and even if we empty it and nothing remains, according to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle that nothingness has a weight.
“It therefore has energy,” he adds, “that condenses and transforms itself into particles, in short, in us!
"When I decide to ‘exhibit' an immaterial sculpture in a given space, that space will concentrate a certain quantity and density of thoughts in a precise point, creating a sculpture that from my title alone will take the most varied forms.
“After all,” asks Garau, “don’t we give shape to a God we have never seen?”
The Sardinian-born artist isn’t exactly new to the world of conceptual art.
For his 2006 piece Ichthys Sacro Stagno, the artist created large ponds on the floors of three churches in the province of Sardinian Oristano, which he then populated with fish from lakes elsewhere in the area.
A year before, he created a 650-foot tarpaulin which he used to cover the scaffolding around a church in Milan.
Italian auction house Art-Rite has declined to reveal the name of the immaterial sculpture’s buyer, and presumably even if you went to their house you will only know they had it if they told you.
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