In Haunt

An immersive evening of Hauntology in the White Hotel, Dave Haslam and The Option performing their ambient soundscape ‘Breathless’, and a specially-commissioned play taking audiences ‘Beneath These Tarmac Cracks’– these are just some of the creative highlights of Not Quite Light Weekend 2019, a festival unfolding in Salford for 28-31 March 2019.

This is an opportunity to experience the cityscape like never before; plunging into its enigmatic undersides, unearthing hidden histories, finding buried beauty and also considering the future. It will be preceded by an evening also operated in association with HAUNT Manchester: ‘Following Hauntology: twilight streets and dark horizons’. This will be a vibrant panel discussing ideas and themes around Hauntology – a free event taking place on Wednesday 27 March in the Annexe of No 70 Oxford Street, Manchester.

Hauntology Event

Not Quite Light is the concept of artist Simon Buckley – originally a photography project which saw Simon document the  cityscape of Salford, his current homeplace, as well as Manchester in the hours when it is indeed, not quite light.  Considering the captivating and enigmatic quality of the photography series, it is perhaps no wonder that it has in turn developed into a festival format, with NQL 2019  expected to deliver four days of diverse events which celebrate the mysterious angles of the cityscape; featuring art, music, debate and architecture.

HAUNTOLOGY is one of the key aspects being explored as part of NQL 2019, with an evening under the name same  taking place on Thursday 28th March at The White Hotel, Salford’s secretive space for cultural happenings. The event is presented by NQL in association with HAUNT Manchester at Manchester Metropolitan University, and sheds light on the sides of the cityscape which are haunted by unresolved pasts and unrealised futures.

How is HAUNTOLOGY happening? The themes of this cultural phenomenon will be explored through the diverse work of a number of performance artists who will turn the interior of The White Hotel into an atmospheric encounter with the alternative.

Wilderness Hymnal Artist

 One example is Wilderness Hymnal (pictured above -Photography with thanks to Samuel Andrew Fenton): a music project led by Javier G Wallis, seeking to explore the urgent themes of environmental destruction, loss and our impact on earth through genre-shifting soundscapes.  Also adding a mysterious music element is Zirkus – an offshoot of Manchester experimental rock band Flange Circus – building layers of improvisational sound an audience are likely to lose themselves within.

Sound after all has the ability to unleash unusual frequencies and uncover uncanny stories in city spaces, as Dr Matt Foley, Lecturer in English at Manchester Met and member of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies reflects:

‘Hauntology’, as a label, is often applied to a particular strand of postmillennial electronic music but the term’s pre-history lies in philosophical debates, from the early 1990s, about the profundity of ghostly encounters in politics, art, and culture. The NQL events will shed new light on hauntological theories and practice, particularly in relation to urban space, sound, and ghostly atmospherics.

If we were to try to theorize what lies beneath the unsettling affects of ghostly soundscapes, then we might suggest that disembodied sounds have an uncanny presence as they lack the comfort of visual recognition. When the sounds of the city creep up on us unawares, in the half-light of an urban twilight, they do not merely invoke in us a sense of trepidation; there is an anticipation, too, over what the city will reveal about itself. It is in this sense, perhaps, that hauntology can be coupled with street walking; to wander through the city when it is not quite light is both to experience a haunting space and to open up oneself to discovering new revelations.”

XVelastin

Hence a number of the other performers involved in the HAUNTOLOGY event will be working to emphasize the powerful properties of sound. XVelastín (pictured above) is an artist for example who previously mesmerised  a crowd with his captivating soundscape which brought the River Irwell to life as  part of a commission for NQL 2018, and returns for the 2019 edition with another specially-created work. In addition, artists Simon Woolham and Ruby Tingle (pictured below, credit to Helen Darby) will present a live musical intervention in response to the theme of place, whilst Sean Clarke, the Manchester-based founder of Test Card, will produce lighting and a live visual narrative for the event. This evening of experimentation will also include a performance from Black Lodge, the currently Salford-based DJ-Producer, as well as a DJ set from LoneLady, a musician and artist from Manchester, who is certainly no stranger to taking inspiration from the urban edgelands.

How hauntology has a place in Salford and Manchester is after all a point for consideration. ‘Hauntology’ as a concept derives from the thinking of the philosopher Jacques Derrida, who used it as a term to describe a state of disjunction where rather than ‘being’, a point of identity appears to be replaced by a figure of non-origin – like the figure of the ghost. Some people use ‘hauntology’ to refer to the recurrence of nostalgia or even retro aesthetics, the sense that aspects of the past ‘haunt’ or to an extent ‘occupy’ areas of the present. This could be considered especially interesting when applied to cityscapes, especially Salford, Manchester and the divide between them – raising questions such as; is Salford haunted by the status of Manchester? Do the ghosts of the city’s past live on? And what does this mean for the future?

Ruby and Simon

HAUNTOLOGY is one of many features of NQL 2019, which runs from Thursday 28th – Sunday 31st March; making it a long weekend of experiences. The festival after all opens with “THE LIGHTS ARE ON”, an event in which Ordsall Community Arts will be working with local children to produce lanterns, whilst highlights of the following day on Friday 29th include a morning panel discussion at Capital & Centric on the theme of “PLACEMAKING”. Later taking place is THE ORDSALL PEACOCK: ‘GUARDIAN OF MEMORIES’ in collaboration with lighting specialists Arup and the highly-anticipated premier of the play BENEATH THESE TARMAC CRACKS”. This play has been specially commissioned for NQL 2019 and has been created by award winning playwright Josh Val Martin, with soundscapes and music by Daniel Mawson and visuals by Simon Buckley / Not Quite Light.

Over the weekend, innovative features continue including a Saturday of talks, workshops, music and art taking place at Five Four Studios: the festival hub. Architects Hawkins Brown, in collaboration with GF Smith Papers, will be leading an event called “CHILDREN DREAM A CITY” where children can construct an imaginative city with card. Providing another range of perspectives,“THE DARK CITY” will see a panel discussion and performances from writers Kate Feld, Emily Oldfield, Nick Royle, Rosie Garland, Steve Marland, Anne Beswick and Helen Darby. Other events include "SLEEP LIKE A TUDOR" at the historic Ordsall Hall. In the evening “HEART & SOUL” will take place, which is a highly-anticipated feature from DAVE HASLAM and The Option (Paris) - pictured below - performing their ambient soundscape ‘Breathless’ live for the first time in the UK. This will also involve an accompanying live video created by Donna Jevons – alongside sets by spoken word performers Eve Piper, Karl Hildebrandt and Kieren King, and acoustic singer-songwriter Evie Russell.

Heart and Soul

On Sunday, just some features of another varied day include a “DAWN CYCLE RIDE” through the streets of Salford, live music from “COURTYARD CREATIONS” and GRUB MCR will be staging a very special food event at the Masonic Hall on The Crescent.

The eclectic and extensive nature of Not Quite Light 2019 underlines the sheer prospect an alternative exploration of the urban space offers, and is sure to be a long-weekend of intrigue and learning. Tickets are available for individual events, as well as whole days and the entire festival – with more information via the website.

NQL 2019

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