It is 2021. Manchester. Gleaming apartments rise up over the ancient river Irk, and under the prime real estate of Angel Meadow, 40,000 bodies are buried. Cities change.

An immersive audio-visual experience for uncertain times.

3 – 10 June 2021

The White Hotel, Salford

(rescheduled from January 2021 due to Covid-19)

In their most ambitious collaborative project to date, Manchester Collective re-imagine the live experience for a volatile new age. Inspired by a journey along a ruined waterway, Dark Days, Luminous Nights is part-exhibition, part-installation: a tapestry of music, film, dance and photography.

Featuring the work of artists Simon Buckley and Blackhaine, alongside a dramatic score by Béla Bartók, Edmund Finnis, and Wojciech Kilar, this intoxicating work looks deep into the soul of a city and asks: what have we lost?

Commissioned and produced by Manchester Collective, Dark Days, Luminous Nights is an immersive, audio-visual installation which audiences will experience in timed slots at The White Hotel, a former MOT garage turned underground music and arts venue in the shadow of Strangeways prison. At the heart of the experience is a newly created 30-minute film featuring subversive artist Blackhaine, alongside a display of photographs by Simon Buckley. All artistic content has been captured and recorded in Manchester and Salford, during the pandemic.

Music underpins the visual experience, with three contrasting pieces – Béla Bartók’s Divertimento, Wojciech Kilar’s Orawa and The Centre is Everywhere by Edmund Finnis – reflecting the push and pull of urban decay.

Rakhi Singh, Manchester Collective co-founder and Music Director, says: “In a time when we can’t physically be together, we wanted to shape an experience that contains humanity and creates space for reflection. Dark Days, Luminous Nights is the story of what we’ve all been going through, not as individuals but as a collective experience.

“When we met Simon Buckley, we discovered that he has a similar connection with cities that we have with music – looking for spaces that are passed by, in the darkness and ignored. He finds the beauty and personality in them, as well as the hidden stories. His work seamlessly blends the contrasts of the music with elements of dance, photography and film into a complete experience.

“Most of all, this is a project about Manchester. It’s about our journey as individuals – as musicians, producers, directors, photographers… We are all part of these bricks and mortar, and it is our story to tell.”

Making his directorial debut for this project, in the film Simon Buckley traces a journey along the river Irk as four lone figures make their way through an urban hinterland. Buckley says: “My work in Dark Days Luminous Nights stems from a project I began five years ago called Not Quite Light (NQL), in which I set out to reacquaint myself with the city I’ve known and lived in for most of my life, at a time of huge transition both for myself and for Manchester. I was interested in using dawn as a metaphor for change and this project has allowed me to translate my vision into a film – through themes of regeneration, displacement and isolation.

“The NQL project was initially conceived in Angel Meadow, one of the locations for this new work, and so provides an opportunity to further examine the changes which are soon to arrive in this ancient area of the city of Manchester. The film, along with the photographs on display, could be seen as fragments of a disquieting dream, which sits in reality.”