The House of St Barnabas is taking a purposeful step towards confronting its distant history of systemic racism. The London members’ club has commissioned a piece of sound art by Gaika Tavares – known mononymously as GAIKA – a descendant of Jamaicans enslaved by Richard Beckford, who reopened it in 1754.
The Guardian reports that “Flight Recorder,” as the work is titled, derives inspiration from airplane black boxes. The sounds produced when entrants interact with it will be recorded and then composed into a release by Gaika, who will then perform it at the club later in 2020.
“It’s as if we’re supposed to not talk about slavery and if we do, we run the risk of being called divisive,” Gaika said. “We need to actually discuss these things or go further and try and remedy some of the inequalities or imbalances. What I want is to try and tip the scales back a little bit.”
The House of St Barnabas has gone through many incarnations since being built in 1679. In 1846 it reopened as The House of Charity, an organization that aided the homeless through a series of initiatives. It has been a members’ club that has provided a platform for emerging artists since 2013; among the founding members were Richard Strange, Rob Da Bank and the late Andrew Weatherall.
“Flight Recorder” will be available to the public until December 2020.