Somerset House Studios

The politics of sound system culture

22 Aug 2018

Listen to Somerset House Studios resident Gaika in conversation with Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar about the politics of sound system culture, Windrush and the history and future of Notting Hill Carnival, on the occasion of his month-long audio visual installation SYSTEM.

SYSTEM is a month-long audio visual installation, exploring themes of immigration, cultural expression and raw technical prowess which is at the heart of sound system culture through archival source material, commissioned by Boiler Room.

“Sound systems are an extension of our voice and you’ve go to shout to stay alive.”

Gaika, Musician, Somerset House Studios
SYSTEM by Gaika, Photo © Anne Tetzlaff
SYSTEM by Gaika, Photo © Anne Tetzlaff

In the run-up to Notting Hill Carnival, a series of weekly parties celebrated the positive impact of migration on music. Featuring the likes of legendary dub producer Aba Shanti-I, the all female CAYA Soundsystem and queer collective BBZ London, the series provided a platform to new talent inspired by sound system culture to perform alongside the original selectors.

Aba Shanti-I, SYSTEM: Sound Series Party, Photo © Anne Tetzlaff
SYSTEM: Sound Series Party with Aba Shanti-I, Photo © Anne Tetzlaff
Gaika performs at the first SYSTEM: Sound Series party at Somerset House Studios

At the heart of SYSTEM is a new film by Gaika, Congregation, that combines archival footage of Notting Hill Carnival with new videos and visuals created by the artist and contemporary footage shot by Boiler Room. An exploration of blackness, shared narratives and historical knowledge, the film aims to challenge media perceptions by showcasing the stories and characters of Carnival and beyond.

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