Tai Shani’s multidisciplinary practice, comprising performance, film, photography and installation, revolves around experimental narrative texts. Shani creates violent, erotic and fantastical images told in a dense, floral language which re-imagines female otherness as a perfect totality, set in a world complete with cosmologies, myth and histories that negate patriarchy. These alternate between familiar narrative tropes and structures and theoretical prose in order to explore the construction of subjectivity, excess and affect and the epic as the ground for a post-patriarchal realism.
Tai Shani’s on-going project Dark Continent Productions that proposes an allegorical city of women, is an experimental and expanded adaptation of Christine de Pizan’s 1405 pioneering feminist book, The Book of the City of Ladies within which Christine builds an allegorical city for notable women drawn from a medieval conception of history, where fact, fiction and myth are blurred. This non-hierarchical approach also determines the construction of the characters and narrative of Dark Continent.
Tai Shani was born in London. Shani has presented her work extensively in the UK and abroad, recent exhibitions and commissions include, including Wysing Arts Centre (2017); Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2016); RADAR commission, Loughborough University, (2016), Serpentine Galleries (2016); Tate Britain (2016); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2015); Southbank Centre, London (2014-15); Arnolfini, Bristol (2013); Matt’s Gallery, London (2012) and FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais and Loop Festival, Barcelona (2011); The Barbican, London (2011); ICA, London (2011).
Dark Continent: SEMIRAMIS
Tai Shani creates a large-scale immersive installation that also functions as a site for performance. The work is an experimental adaptation of Christine de Pizan’s 1405 proto-feminist text The Book of the City of Ladies.
Twelve performers play characters, including The Neanderthal Hermaphrodite, The Medieval Mystic, The Vampyre, Phantasmagoregasm, and Paradise to create a 12 part performance series, depicting an allegorical city of women, a space to imagine an alternative history which privileges, sensation, experience and interiority, undermining patriarchal conceptions of narrative history to propose a possible post-patriarchal future.
The performances will take place on the opening three days of the festival, with the sequences filmed and the documentation subsequently presented alongside the installation.
Each episode focuses on one of the characters and is delivered through prose monologues which are violent, erotic and filled with fantastical images that re-imagine a world complete with interlinked cosmologies, myth and histories.
Drawing on multiple reference points including feminist science fiction, post-modern architecture, and feminist and queer theory, this is Shani’s most ambitious and multi-layered work to date and includes an original score by ‘Let’s Eat Grandma’.
Co-commissioned by Glasgow International and The Tetley, Leeds. Supported by Arts Council England.
Fri 20 April – Mon 7 May
Mon – Sun, 12 noon-6pm