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GAIKA's new art installation for Black History Month examines slavery in Jamaica

‘Flight Recorder’ will be on display at The House of St Barnabas until December

  • Jemima Skala
  • 17 October 2020
GAIKA's new art installation for Black History Month examines slavery in Jamaica

GAIKA has revealed ‘Flight Recorder’, a new art installation for The House of St Barnabas, that examines slavery in Jamaica.

GAIKA was commissioned to make ‘Flight Recorder’ by The House of St Barnabas, a Soho members’ club aiming to break the cycle of homelessness, after it came to light that the House was built by Richard Beckford, a slave owner in Jamaica.

The House’s Director of Engagement Gillian Jackson came to realise that Beckford likely enslaved her family. GAIKA’s family in Jamaica are from the same area as Jackson’s, and were also enslaved by Beckford.

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‘Flight Recorder’ calls for ordinary people with links to the Beckford family to come forward and participate in the installation. It consists of an inflight black box, a metaphor for a slave ship retaining memories of the ship’s journey. The box is in fact a Tascam tape recorder which audience members can interact with to reveal different sounds. ‘Flight Recorder’ will be open until December 2020.

To extend the project, GAIKA also aims to work with other musicians and graduates of the House of St Barnabas’ employment scheme to help formerly homeless people into work to create a new EP. He will also perform live at the House of St Barnabas chapel later in 2020.

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GAIKA was commissioned as part of an ongoing project to address House of St Barnabas’ colonial past.

Speaking on the installation, GAIKA says, “This installation is based on the internal recorders from a highly advanced aircraft named Bohemia. It is named after the district in rural Jamaica, where my father was born and is now buried. Bohemia is in the parish on St Ann and is bordering Trelawny, Manchester, and Clarendon in the centre of Jamaica. His mother came from the cockpit maroons and his father - my grandfather - was a Tavares from Westmoreland (where the Beckford plantations were) and his ancestors were freed slaves who became planters there. I call this this motion from slavery to freedom, across mountains oceans and time itself, flight.”

GAIKA will also be participating in a talk for the House on reclaiming Black history and whether Black History Month should be cancelled. Register for tickets here.

Jemima Skala is Mixmag’s Weekend Editor. Follow her on Twitter

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