Semiramis was the culmination of Shani’s ongoing project Dark Continent, which included an immersive installation in The Tetley’s atrium, film works, posters and a selection of artworks drawn together by Shani.
Over the preceding four years Tai Shani developed a body of work that takes Christine de Pizan’s 1405 protofeminist text The Book of the City of Ladies as its starting point. Pizan created an allegorical city of notable women drawn from a medieval conception of history, where fact, fiction and myth are blurred. Characters from fiction live side by side with female historical figures, collectively making an early case for gender equality.
In Semiramis, Shani presented twelve films of twelve characters, including The Woman on the Edge of Time, The Vampyre, The Medieval Mystic, Siren and Phantasmagoregasm, demonstrated through performed monologues with an original score by Let’s Eat Grandma.
The often violent, erotic and fantastical narratives mixed science fiction, anthropology, feminist and queer theory to reimagine a world with interlinked cosmologies, myth and histories. Throughout, Semiramis privileged sensation, experience and interiority, undermining patriarchal conceptions of narrative history to propose a possible post-patriarchal future.
Co-commissioned by The Tetley and Glasgow International, in collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary. Supported by Arts Council England and the Royal College of Art.