Tai Shani was born in London and has exhibited her work extensively in the UK and abroad. She is one of four Arts Council Collection artists shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2019, alongside Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Oscar Murillo. Their presentations are currently on show at Turner Contemporary in Margate, Kent.
Her project Dark Continent is a series of texts interpreted into performance, film and installation, as well as a commissioned soundtrack. The project is an expanded adaptation of Christine de Pizan’s 1405 protofeminist text The Book of the City of Ladies, in which dialogues with three celestial females, ‘Reason’, ‘Rectitude’ and ‘Justice’, build a metaphorical protected city for women, using examples of important contributions women have made to Western civilisation and arguments that prove their intellectual and moral equality with men.
The project draws on multiple references in addition to de Pizan’s text, including feminist science fiction, postmodern architecture and feminist and queer theory. These create both a physical and a conceptual space to critique contemporary gender constructs and imagine an alternative history.
In 2018, Dark Continent culminated in DC: Semiramis, a large-scale, sculptural, immersive installation that also functioned as a site for a 12-part performance series presented over four days at Glasgow International. Each documented episode focused on one of the characters of an allegorical ‘City of Women’.