Tai Shani’s practice encompasses performance, film, photography and sculptural installations, frequently structured around experimental texts. Taking inspiration from disparate histories, narratives and characters mined from forgotten sources, Shani creates dark, fantastical worlds, brimming with utopian potential. These deeply affective works often combine rich and complex monologues with arresting, saturated installations, manifesting equally disturbing and divine images in the mind of the viewer.
Tai Shani’s recent exhibitions at Glasgow International (2018), The Tetley, Leeds (2018) and participation in Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance at Nottingham Contemporary (2019) and the De Le Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, (2019) were centred around Shani’s on-going project Dark Continent, developed by the artist over a four-year period. The work is made up of multiple characters which explore mythical and real women in an expanded adaptation of Christine de Pizan’s 1405 pioneering proto-feminist book, The Book of the City of Ladies. Shani uses the structure of an allegorical city of women to explore ‘feminine’ subjectivity and experience, through a gothic/science-fiction lens. Adopting Pizans’ medieval conception of history, where historical events, fictions and myths are entwined, Dark Continent draws upon a host of references, tropes and characters from disparate sources, creating an elaborate world, outside of time and beyond patriarchal limits.
Shani has recently exhibited her work at Temple Bar, Dublin (2019-20); Turner Contemporary, Margate (2019); CentroCentro, Madrid (2019); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2019); The Tetley, Leeds (2018), Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2018), Tramway, Glasgow (2018); Athens Biennale, Athens (2018); Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2017); Serpentine Galleries, London (2016); Tate Britain, London (2016).
Shani is one of the four awarded artists of the Turner Prize 2019: the artists requested for the prize to be shared as a symbol of solidarity at a time of global political crisis.
Shani will be exhibiting newly commissioned work in The British Art Show 9, 2021-2022 and Manchester International Festival, 2021.