Last week I went to Parasol Unit’s 10th Anniversary Auction party. It was the last couple of hours of their online auction so there was an extra frisson amongst those that had their eye on something. There with a friend we had a good look, resting at a new direction by Idris Khan, and a delicate ink drawing by Tabaimo. But the work we had our eye on was by Thomas Hirschhorn. It was quite small, tucked away at the back of the show but punched above its weight. Titled ‘Collage-Truth no.53’ it juxtaposed two photo journalist images – one of a destroyed human body in what appeared to be a conflict zone; the other of two women in what looked like a fashion shoot – one of them dressed as a man and caressing the other, in a dress, who was looking away.
It was an arresting contrast and we spent some time studying it, discussing why Hirschhorn had placed the two images together. The catalogue provided some clues, talking about the artist’s desire to get to ‘truth’ as opposed to ‘fact.’ He argued that reducing things to fact can be a comfortable way of avoiding touching truth. The work gave me a kick and it also seemed like a bit of a bargain. My friend and I worked out if we clubbed together we could probably stretch to it. It had only had a few bids and was still under the £2,000 – £3,000 estimate.
With an hour to go, and no wine consumed even, we registered quickly with Paddle 8 who were right there, and put in our bid. Things were looking good. We were still well under the estimate and no-one matched us for the next 45 minutes. Feeling rather hopeful we left and went for some late dinner and a catch up. As we ordered our pasta an email came through. We’d been pipped to the post by a bid just above ours. We both felt a twang of disappointment.
We may not have spent any money but we had started to get rather excited about who was going to have the work in their home first, and how we should hang it. Perhaps in an acrylic box? Or should it hang straight on the wall in the photograph pocket, as the artist intended? We mulled over how perhaps we should have been ready to add a counter bid, and possibly be drawn into a last minute frenzy. And finally we couldn’t help thinking we should have been braver.