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Salvatore Garau
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An Italian artist has sold literally nothing for £12,900

Salvatore Garau’s invisible sculptures ask you to ‘activate the power of the imagination’

How much does ‘nothing’ cost? €15,000 (£12,900), apparently – according to last month’s auction of a sculpture that has no weight, shape, or form by 67-year-old Italian artist Salvatore Garau.

That’s right: the artwork, titled ”Io Sono” (which translates to ‘I am’), is an ‘intangible sculpture’.

“The vacuum is nothing more than a space full of energy, and even if we empty it and there is nothing left, according to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, that nothing has a weight,” Garau told Diario AS. ”Therefore, it has energy that is condensed and transformed into particles, that is, into us.”

After going up for sale in May at the Italian auction house Art-Rite, one (lucky?) bidder outdid the pre-sale estimated value of between €6,000 to 9,000. The accompanying image is, of course, a blank white square.

Along with a certificate of authenticity stamped by Garau himself, the buyer was given instructions on how to display their new, invisible artwork: it must be exhibited in a private house in a roughly five-by-five-foot space free of obstruction.

“When I decide to ‘exhibit’ an immaterial sculpture in a given space, that space will concentrate a certain amount and density of thoughts at a precise point, creating a sculpture that, from my title, will only take the most varied forms,” Garau explained, adding: “After all, don’t we shape a God we’ve never seen?”

Garau has previously explored similar concepts of immateriality and nothingness, with his Buddha In Contemplazione installation – a white square taped onto a cobbled Milan street. ”You don’t see it but it exists; it is made of air and spirit,” he said of the piece. ”It is a work that asks you to activate the power of the imagination, a power that anyone has, even those who don’t believe they have it.”

The video of the work, however, generated a certain amount of cynicism, with commenters writing: ”So you really just taped a square and called that a sculpture?” and ”The hardest part of modern art is figuring out who’s punking who”.

Garau believes he has started a ’new, small, authentic revolution’ with his vision and will be selling other invisible works.

Artists have long been known to play with and test the concept of value – in 2019, a banana taped to a wall sold for $120,000 at Art Basel. While the recent boom in NFTs (with newly restored Warhol works recently going for $3 million) has also forced us to think about the value of intangible artworks.