Tai's multidisciplinary practice revolves around experimental narrative texts that alternate between familiar narrative tropes and structures and theoretical prose.
Tai was born in London. Tai has presented her work extensively in the UK and abroad, and was a joint winner of the 2019 Turner Prize.
Tai has participated in Prospect 1.5 New Orleans and the Herzeliya Biennial, 2009, as well as several residencies including Wysing Art Centre and HOMESESSION, Barcelona. She is also a permanent resident at Gasworks, London.
Tai Shani’s DC: Productions (originally called Dark Continent) is an epic, episodic project that comprises interconnected yet stand-alone performances, installations and films of experimental narrative texts, an expanded adaptation of Christine de Pizan’s 1405 proto-feminist text, ‘The Book of the City of Ladies’.
Tai's on-going project Dark Continent Productions that proposes an allegorical city of women, it 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.
Taking Pizan's book as a point of departure to imagine an alternative history which privileges, sensation and interiority and constructs a possible post-patriarchal future. This very loose adaptation offers an ahistorical, non-linear, non-place, simultaneously internal and geographic, past and future, a city in time but not in space. This city of women is populated by composite, symbolic protagonists that embody excess and examine 'feminine' subjectivity and experience as well as the potentials of a realism defined by excess and the irrational; qualities traditionally surrounding notions of “femininity”.
The project is iterated through disparate installations, films and performances that together form a mythology that conceptualises the ‘epic’ as a form test the potentials of feminist politics and ideologies, a platform to critique the current structures, norms and gender constructs, and imagine a post-patriarchal world.
Exhibitions and commissions
Recent exhibitions and commissions include:
Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2016)
RADAR commission, Loughborough University (2016)
Serpentine Galleries (2016)
Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2015)
Southbank Centre, London (2014–15)
Arnolfini, Bristol (2013); Matt’s Gallery, London (2012)
FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais and Loop Festival, Barcelona (2011)
The Barbican, London (2011); ICA, London (2011)