Tai Shani: Semiramis

  • 20 Jul – 14 Oct 2018
  • Free, no booking required

Semiramis was Tai Shani’s first major solo exhibition in a public gallery and formed part of her nomination for the 2019 Turner Prize, which Shani won alongside Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock and Oscar Murillo.

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.


Semiramis is very weird; it is also deeply illuminating, sexy, angry, tender, affecting in ways that surpass narrative, and full of urgent insight about the world.” – Tank Magazine

“[Semiramis] is like diving vagina first into a cyborgian erotic tunnel, in which strange and magnificent characters tell tales of squirting fluids and menstrual blood.” – The White Review

Watch our interview with the artist

Tai Shani: Semiramis

Listen to Tai Shani in conversation with Griselda Pollock

Tai Shani: Semiramis