“We walk around New York City every day and we see buildings and streets named after slave owners,” says artist Reggie Black. “But typically we only kind of connect that story back to the South.” Needless to say, that is far from being the whole story, and tonight and Wednesday, one of those houses— the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, at Broadway and 204th Street in Inwood — will have a reminder glowing from its façade, when Black projects the words “Slaves Lived Here” onto the building’s painted wooden siding. The new work by multimedia artist Reggie Black titled “No Records” was inspired by a project at the museum dedicated to telling the stories of the six Black people enslaved by the Dyckmans, the Dutch family who built the house around 1785 — 14 years before New York began the drawn-out emancipation of the enslaved people in the state.
“With the Dyckman Farmhouse being the oldest slave farmhouse in New York City, it was important to make sure that people knew that this was an actual location where slaves lived,” Black says. There’s no ignoring the blunt words of Black’s installation, which are written in the bold, blocky lettering that’s a signature of his work, and will be displayed on a loop, alternating between English and Spanish (“Esclavos Vivieron Aquí”); Black said he wanted to make sure Inwood’s Spanish-speaking community had access to the projection as well. You should be able to see it from the street at the intersection of West 204th Street and Broadway from dusk until 6:30 p.m. on Monday and 9 p.m. on Wednesday.