ariella tai: the researcher is present

ariella tai: the researcher is present

As a winter 2020 resident, curator and video artist ariella tai will be exploring black performance and cultural vernacular as techniques towards subversion, interruption and obfuscation in video work.  Their research will focus on works where the societal projections of Blackness come into contact or conflict with the infinite and specific realities of lived Black experience, consciousness and sanity.  

This project seeks to abide the imperative built by Therí Alyce Pickens in Black Madness::Mad Blackness that “one cannot get beyond either madness or Blackness but rather must find the spaces where excess, unknowability and insanity do not account for them in all their complexity.  The only way out is through.”  

How does the medium of video particularly sustain these interventions?  How do Black makers visually and sonically materialize these gaps, breaks and spills?  

This work will serve to build out the resources and database of tai’s collaborative project with artist kiki nicole “the first and the last”, as well as supplement ongoing critical research into the legacies of black women and queer people in film, video and television.

tai’s work is included in the exhibition  Mad Building Syndrome (MBS), curated by Sajdeep Soomal, that is on display at Trinity Square Video January 17 – February 22, 2020. This project explores, re-imagines and speculates on the architectural forms of asylums, psychiatric hospitals, and mental health institutions in a global context.Other artists include: Hannah Hull, Agata Mrozowski, Maria-Saroja Ponnambalam and Rupali Mozaria,  Joe Wood, and contributions by Kai Cheng Thom, Joshua Whitehead, and Kelly Schieder.


ariella tai is a video artist, film scholar, and independent programmer from Queens, New York.  They currently re-appropriate, glitch and video process existing media as part of a practice exploring black interiority, pleasure and resistance in moving images.  They are one half of “the first and the last,”  a fellowship, workshop and screening series supporting and celebrating the work of black women and femmes in film, video and new media art. They have shown work at PICA, the Black Femme Supremacy Film Festival, the Northwest Film Center,  Boathouse Microcinema, Wa Na Wari, Anthology Film Archives and MOCA. ariellatai.com

Image Credit: still from cavity (2019, ariella tai) digital, 6m.