Necessarily unsafe for those present, the xmas unction went secular again this year, turned into a splintered spectre of a salon hanging, delicate objects hung low= lamentable dropshadow + lacklustre monoliths beheld proliferate, lofty, belying the collection's own attempt to capitalise on the nervously salivating expectations of those who'd cum to go home with something tucked under rain-saturated attire. Whether the salutatory 'Prosperous yuletide + Brighter Future' was of any sarcastic significance, I dunno, but it made for a perfect preamble to the emcee's welcoming speech, John Key's profligate policy rhetoric sited as a motivational enticement for the night's spending spree. But merry consumerism was as muted as the hummed pianissimos of the Fuzzy Fuzzmin trio, gently strummed guitars, harmonious handclaps and whispered vocal polyphony flattened out by the ignorance of the gathering crowd. The most subtly brilliant phenomena of the night were those unnamed and largely unmentionable acts that spouted forth as peripheral shrugs such as the swarthy and quietly imbibed moustached John Doe type who took deserted centrestage, his arpeggiated and delicately haphazard electric finger picking always threatening to go Eagles-anthemic but remaining all the more brilliant in their marginal and minimal refusal to do so, his benevolent bete noire figure striking twitches of attention from the largely bored audience, mid-bidding. His deadpan ecstacy seemed to counterpoint so appositely with the distracted but largely collective sways of the gallery moloch. Charlotte's apocalyptic chocolate cake was as appetizing as the end of the world and so also went largely untasted, although hardly ignored in all its dark decadence, with the chocolate-icing tide turning on fifties model VWs as negrescent t-Rexes roamed triumphant in their anti-evolutionary swagger. The holes left by Alex Kennedy's tiny stellar paintings from the Pretty show also spoke more than the works on nominal display here, leaving spy holes in Hamish Palmer's temporary MDF partition for any curious party to check in on those entering the space from the main entrance. Numbered sometime during the night, they took on the negative kind of significance that provided the slippery gray undertone of the entire auction.

The more time you spend in HSP's Lichfield St. space, the more you notice the burden of its architectural acoustics, its dull rectangular and industrial reverb defacing the clarity of the lion's share of its goings-on, especially sonic. Mt. Pleasant entered reluctantly – their compressed Jesus and Mary Chain Animal Collective tantra-pop spilling out of bounds as it fedback unapologetically from overloaded sampling units, voices aquified in their fractal and distorted displacement. The band's appearance marked another sort of displacement: the debut of a noisy awkward youth element in the institution's antiquated milieu. It bespoke of a reciprocal need for something energetic, yet turned out as ostensibly redundant as the opening act, its brief and anonymous leaking on to the scene befitting the eve with another umbral fixture that remained self-deprecating and obstinate. The spurious combustion of Grunge Genesis' audience-extinguishing rock trio panache coupled up with Creon's shouted valedictory salutes to the few that had made hesitant purchases concluded the night in appropriately abrupt fashion. Matt's incessant pencilled graffiti had begun to take precedence over the hung works, while the pink paintbrush hazards and suffocated
'sold' gold leafs stayed stuck like coarse metadata up near the frieze.