For shame

Italian artist Salvatore Garau recently sold at auction his latest work, entitled Lo Sono. The buyer paid over $18,000.

Garau describes Lo Sono as being “made of air and spirit.” He says he likes to think of it as a vacuum, and calls the work an “immaterial sculpture.” As he told Spain’s Diario AS, “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. Therefore, it has energy that is condensed and transformed into particles, that is, into us.”

Confused? Don’t be. The piece of art doesn’t actually exist. There’s truly nothing there.

The buyer will instead receive a “certificate of authenticity” and “display” instructions. Garau insists the “work” must be exhibited in a private house in a roughly five-by-five-foot area free of obstruction.

“Lo Sono,” translated, means “I am.” Garau at least has a sense of humor.

When I was a boy, my brother and I decided to create our own superheroes and sell homemade comic books to the neighborhood suckers. I don’t recall the entire cast of characters we came up with, but Caterpillar Man was a featured player, spinning his own silken threads. Watch and learn, Spidey.

The comics were a series of colored drawings in standard comic book format, stapled together just like the, er, pros do it, and they were even given a brand: Stars and Stripes Comics. And after only a few minutes of showing the wares to the local crew, we found one taker, who gave us our asking price of a nickel each for a couple of issues.

When my mom found out, she made us give the nickels back. Charging for such tripe. No, this was not money we were going to keep. One of us would later work as an artist for Disney Animation and “South Park,” so the art couldn’t have been that bad, but Mom would not be shamed seeing her boys dupe some neighborhood simp.

The buyer hasn’t been disclosed, but be it a simp or a sophisticated modern art tastemaker (same thing you say?), I’m pretty sure Mom would feel at least as shamed were Garau one of hers.

Merriam-Webster defines the word “shame” thusly: “a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.” The second meaning is: “a condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.”

For all the instances of the second meaning we have seen in recent years, we sure seem to have a serious shortage of the first.

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