"Bonne Bainbridge Cohen says that 'the mind is like the wind and the body is like the sand; if you want to know how the wind is blowing, you can look at the sand'..." Nicola Singh
Like the previous two Beacons exhibitions, Pharos and Flare, this final show, Signs, aims to make sense of the no-sense modern world through other-worldly structures, transmissions and artefacts.
The stark Caustic Coastal space in an old retail unit on Oldfield Road contains an eon full of art warmth, while outside the developers continue to scar the cityscape with cold apartment-style multi-storey profit farms.
Enter the gallery and you're visually caressed by Verity Birt's lilac drapes flowing from the ceiling, delicately balancing large plastic discs carved with ancient looking symbols. It looks lovely. Until you notice the snakes writhing around its base.
The accompanying ambient, sensually vibrant video underlines the symbolism, with horns, eggs and more serpent imagery slithering on screen while the artist goes through ritual movements connecting from another side of sanity. You don't have to be Freud to work it out, although the old misogynist twat wouldn't be welcome here.
Indeed this exhibition is very much a female/non-binary take on the psycho-techno sexed up fuck up of the 21st Century. In the centre of the space is a mini sand dune with a tv buried in the middle, surrounded by fallen pillars and zillion year old rocks and coal; an installation by Ayesha Tan Jones.
The tv plays a futuristic news item about Una Jynxx from the digital mystic community, who has been sending 'signals into the abyss' to try and 'save the earth from beyond'... "Do they know what they're doing to you?" Una says in a broadcast "The rays that carry the data cause a tsunami in our skin...disease built on progress...
"Open your eyes" Una implores "all three of them..."
Beyond the tv sand castle, Jones has a viper shaped branch etched with symbols suspended in mid air, as pyramids dangle above, overflowing with data fall-out bits of USBs, wires and phone chargers.
Meanwhile, on the far wall, Anna Hughes has installed two glittery concrete arches, almost touching but separated precisely by a metamorphic crystal rock; while on the side wall she has two 3D reliefs of corrugated triangles and geometric shapes.
On the floor between all these works is some kind of powdered grain with dried palms scattered about. You almost tread in it, thinking it's some leftovers but it's a preview hint for a huge canvas creation downstairs by Dominique White.
Cradled by metal supports, the canvas weaves like a surreal washing line, fraying straw, cotton and more dried palms into the powdery floor. Apparently this magic, charmed, off-white with a tint of voodoo, textile parade is based on 'beliefs surrounding the Kalunga; a watery boundary between the living and the dead'.
Back upstairs, almost unnoticed and hung in the windows, are parchments by Nicola Singh, and on the sill are A4 sheets with a commentary by the artist...
"I was disappointed and drunk.
You were humming in regular rhythm to your movements Ė fucking disappointment, fucking's disappointment, fuck disappointment, a disappointing fuck.
I was thinking about the beaded toe rings that were on sale in the hotel reception.
You murmured something about being inside me, which made me feel you like a tampon. So I shifted round, experimenting with the position of my body to see if it changed the resonance of your voice.
The next morning I realised I hadn't used my hands...
...When I was 16 the man that pierced my ears told me that my eyes reminded him of breasts..."
Read this, see this, experience this. While outside, Salford whirs on in its capitalist wet dream...
It's a different world...
Curated by Rebecca Halliwell-Sutton
Open until 21st April Thursdays and Saturdays 1pm-5pm
(closed Saturday 14th April)
Unit 2 Oldfield Road M5 4DE
For more information Ė click here
Review by Stephen Kingston
Photos by Gareth Lyons