A sculpture of Salvatore Garau called Lo Sono was sold for 15,000 euros at an auction in Milan on May 18, 2021. The interesting thing is that Lo Sono is an invisible statue and the purchaser was given only a warranty certificate. Garau makes statements such as energy – space about this ‘invisible statue’. Some people have called such an experiment – we can safely consider it an experiment – a clever move, some have called it a criticism directed at the art community, and some have called it a complete charlatanism. Undoubtedly, the Lo Sono sculpture – what it looks like is completely up to our imagination – can be studied from various perspectives. It made me think about the body’s journey in a historical context.
In one article, Virginia Woolf says, “If you are going to write a story about a toothache, the publisher will definitely ask you to reconcile this situation with the pain of love”. The meaning under- lying here is very clear; it means that the suffering of the soul is always supe- rior to the suffering of the body, at least there is such an expectation in the mass of readers. Especially Western-cen- tered (or Western-influenced and road-mapped) art also has a position that lags slightly behind the body, mind and emotion. In ancient Greece, as Richard Sennett points out, although the body occupies an important place, spiritual and spiritual suffering are also more sublime in the texts of this culture.
This, of course, does not mean that the body is considered insignificant. Even looking at Michelangelo’s David, it is enough to see how indispensable the body is.
Nevertheless, David’s alert stance to attack, and especially the descriptions of the contracting and relaxing muscles in his body, do not prevent him from becoming the hero of a psychological and spiritual story. Therefore, what Woolf says about the body being a purpose and not a tool undoubtedly emphasizes the changing understanding of art. The metamor- phosis of the body in its contempo- rary, Kafka, seems to have the same emphasis. It seems that the relation- ship that art establishes with the body is a matter related to the social struc- ture itself; a story of a body that stretches from sublimity to demoniza- tion. However, one of the authors of this story is a socio-political context, and it is impossible to think of it sepa- rately from the ‘technical possibilities’. In other words, there can be no defini- tion of a body independent of indus- trialization, demonetization, bureau- cracy, alienation, moral values formed in the light of all this.
What would Jose Ortega, who wrote The Dehumanization of Art (1925) about a century ago, think if he looked back at the present day and saw the pandemic and our (both relevant and irrelevant) network of online/online relationships?
Perhaps, it is not necessary to charac- terize Salvatore Garau’s as ‘Invisible Statue’ as an extreme experiment (as such extreme experiments have always been) and think about it for a long time. But does the fact that the body has reached invisibility by staging – while in Kafka the body at least has the opportunity to be represented as a cockroach – not indicate that it has gone one step beyond demonetisation? Is it too much of a compulsion to inter- pret that we have actually reached the point where the body, space, experi- ence, smell disappear by moving to the virtual world?
Asst. Prof. Dr. Emrah Öztürk