Turner Prize winner Tai Shani receives first US solo show in Cincinnati

The Contemporary Arts Center (Cincinnati) presents My Bodily Remains, the first U.S. solo museum exhibition by British multi-media artist Tai Shani (b. 1976, London). The exhibition will bring together all facets of Shani’s expansive practice, including the U.S. premiere of a newly commissioned feature-length film from which the exhibition draws its title: My Bodily Remains, Your Bodily Remains, and all the Bodily Remains that Ever Were and Ever Will Be (2023).

The exhibition will also include one of the artist’s signature installations, featuring mixed media and references to the premiering film’s core themes. Tai Shani: My Bodily Remains will be on view at the Contemporary Arts Center from November 3, 2023, until April 14, 2024.

Shani works with painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and film to explore the politics of emancipation from a feminist perspective. A prolific writer, Shani draws on sources including punk rock, cult cinema, Greek mythology, feminist theory, and science fiction to craft otherworldly environments and experiences.

The new feature-length film uses the vernacular of video games and sci-fi cinema to explore leftist resistance movements through the past 150 years. A critique of the recent global rise of authoritarianism and fascist politics, it follows four protagonists as they grapple with fundamental life questions about love, grief, and societal change.

“Tai Shani’s work contends with the critical issues of our times, which is exactly the kind of work the CAC champions and aims to catalyze,” Executive Director of the CAC Christina Vassallo said.

In the film, a character named the “Reader of the Book of Love” recounts historical quotations by different revolutionary groups who were proponents of direct action as they describe the relationship between protest, eroticism, and pleasure. These include American labor movement activist Lucy Parsons, the Civil Rights Movement leader Angela Davis, and German anti-imperialist journalist and radical communist Ulrike Meinhof, among others. The film’s expansive narrative is enhanced by interludes of digital animation and a mesmeric score composed in collaboration with Maxwell Sterling.

Produced during a residency at Southbank Centre, London with a Gamelan orchestra, the soundtrack consists of repetitive drone-like waves of sound that elicit a visceral response by extending beyond the film viewing area and filling the entire second-floor galleries.

The exhibition also includes an accompanying installation occupying nearly 30-feet across and resembling an inverted Medieval ceiling featuring sculptures and objects that echo the environments and references woven throughout the film. Suspended above it and on the adjacent wall will be fragmented architectural forms—columns, an altar, and circular discs—that further emphasize Shani’s interest in conjuring immersive dream-like environments.

The exhibition also features a suite of nine watercolors, a painted triptych, and an earlier film, The Neon Hieroglyph (2021), demonstrating Shani’s multi-disciplinary practice and investigating the transformative potential of psychedelics.

Drawing on queer and feminist theory and political ideologies of collectivism, the works together ponder love as a device for healing and resistance.

Tai Shani: My Bodily Remains is curated by Amara Antilla, CAC Senior Curator at Large, with support from Erin Adelman, Curatorial Assistant.

About Tai Shani

Tai Shani (b. 1976, London; lives and works in London) is an interdisciplinary artist and writer who employs performance, installation, photography, and film. She draws from pop culture references, psychedelic aesthetics, science fiction, and Gothic sensibilities, which are used to create mystical narratives that are rooted in feminism, anti-fascism, and capitalist critique. Largely self-taught, she shifts seamlessly between genres, media, and periods to uncover marginalized histories and craft research-based works as tools for imagining post-patriarchal futures.

Shani is a joint winner of the 2019 Turner Prize alongside Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, and Oscar Murillo. She currently teaches at the Royal College of Art, London.

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