Welcome to the church of the future, praise be. Turner Prize-winner Tai Shani’s new exhibition at new gallery Gathering is a mystical, futuristic place of worship and contemplation, of psychedelic and occult visions, a temple to technospiritualism.
It starts with swirling watercolours that feel like free, subsconscious attempts to communicate with another realm, like Hilma Af Klint or Aleister Crowley raised on a diet of shrooms, anti-depressants and too much internet.
Down the pink staircase you find the psychedelic altar. A pink skeleton lies in a glass case like a holy relic, all around it are pyramids and orbs and glass eyes. Black candelabras are lit by the heads of screaming hags, a huge nude bust of a woman is made of dozens of glass eyes like a trippy, erotic Virgin Mary. There are black circles referencing hallucinogenic mould, some weaved into the watercolours, others carved into pixelated, circuit-board-like forms.
It’s like the set of a feminist, drug-fuelled Hammer horror film
It’s like the set of a feminist, drug-fuelled Hammer horror film about witches and LSD and digital rituals. But the real sense you get is of an artist trying to parse the mess of life: using the occult, hallucinogens and the internet to create a new spirituality. What is losing yourself in healing crystals, drugs or religion if not an attempt to make sense of a senseless world, to find meaning when things feel meaningless. This feels like art about grasping for truth and purpose when everything feels lost.
It’s intense, it’s very pretty, and it’s a bit silly; all that pink and witchcraft makes it feel a bit millennial-goth-who-calls-house-plants-pets. But Tai Shani has created a psychedelic temple, a place of congregation and spiritual ecstasy, that just might make you a convert. Or a sacrifice.