Turner Prize 2019 Tai Shani

Watch the film and learn more about the Turner Prize 2019 nominee Tai Shan

Tai Shani was born in London, UK in 1976. She is self-taught.


portrait of the artist Tai Shani

Tai Shani

Recent solo exhibitions and performances include: Dark Continent: Psy Chic Anem One, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2019); Dark Continent: Psy Chic Anem One, Athens Biennale (2018); DC: Semiramis, The Tetley, Leeds (2018); DC: Semiramis, Glasgow International (2018); Andromedan Sad Girl (with Florence Peake), Wysing Arts Centre, Great Chesterford (2017); A MYSTERICAL DAY, Serpentine Galleries, London (2016); MOANS OF APPROACHING DEATH, Tate Britain, London (2016); RADAR commission, Loughborough University (2016); DOUBLE FEATURE Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2015); Silver Fiat Vox, Xero Kline and Coma, London; Anti-Antigone End Time FRAC Nord Pas de Calais for Loop, Barcelona (2011); W.O.W. Noumenon Dilation: Reduced to 3,Artprojx, London (2010); Last Night I Dreamt I was Venus, Barbican, London (2010); and Empire and Daughter Isotope, Spike Island/Arnolfini, Bristol (2009).

Landscape photograph of the installation 'DC Semiramis' showing a series of female performers within a sculptural set

Tai Shani DC Semiramis 2018 Glasgow, Courtesy the artist © Keith Hunter

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 has been nominated for her participation in Glasgow International 2018, solo exhibition DC: Semiramis at The Tetley, Leeds and participation in Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance at Nottingham Contemporary and the De Le Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea. These exhibitions centre 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.

Jointly commissioned by Glasgow International, The Tetley, and Nottingham Contemporary, DC: Semiramis brings together the full roster of these 12 characters, to create an epic tableaux vivant. At Glasgow International and Nottingham Contemporary the striking sculptural set was activated over a number of days with performances, each focusing on a different character from the series. At The Tetley, the work took the form of installations comprising an immersive set alongside a complete archive of the Dark Continent project, including video documentation of all twelve performances, texts, posters and a radio play.

Tai Shani is 42 and lives and works in London.

  • Turner Prize 2019

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