Tai Shani & Maxwell Sterling

Tai Shani, a headshot of the artist in which she is wearing a hoodie
Tai Shani, courtesy of the artist

Tai Shani, an artist who uses many different disciplines, collaborates with Maxwell Sterling, a musician, composer and sound artist, in our Southbank Centre Studio.

Tai Shani, joint-winner of the 2019 Turner Prize, describes herself as being ‘always hyper critical of [her] own work’ and ‘looking at how to narrow the gap of how I imagine works to be and how they come out’. Nevertheless, Shani considers her 2021 film The Neon Hieroglyph – a dreamlike CGI journey into the mystic composed of nine short episodes – the work she is proudest of. The work included a soundtrack by Manchester-born composer-musician Maxwell Sterling, and the two will collaborate once again for Shani’s Southbank Centre Studio.

Together they will be exploring and developing the score for Shani’s upcoming film work, My Bodily Remains, Your Bodily Remains, And All The Bodily Remains That Ever Were, And Ever Will Be. Their intention is to adapt part of the score for a Gamelan orchestra, and work with various collaborators in the process. Sterling explained that their intention is to ‘develop a language and means to interface with a gamelan orchestra,’ adding, ‘I hope the outcome [will be] a much more nuanced musical score that is not confined to western tuning, scales or intonation’.

‘I have experienced so many inspiring and identity forming encounters with film, music, and art at the Southbank Centre.’

Tai Shani

But why the gamelan? Shani explained that the significance of the instrument is rooted in her upbringing. ‘In my childhood I spent quite a bit of time in Indonesia and remember being very affected by the power of gamelan music that would sometimes also accompany the Legong dances in Bali… Being able to explore the possibility of the incredible tonal and rhythmic qualities accompanying this film is incredibly exciting… It is an absolute dream to even have the opportunity to experiment with these instruments and collaborate with interesting musicians’.

‘The opportunity to perform and workshop our ideas in such an acoustically acclaimed venue [is] incredibly rewarding,’ added Sterling. ‘It allows me to experiment sonically in ways I haven’t been able to previously.’

Max Sterling plays a double bass in a white-walled room whilst standing in front of a grand piano
Max Sterling, courtesy of the artist
Max Sterling