Grant Summary
Artist Statement
As an act of queer world building I create the things I needed as a kid—speculative fictions, cos/crossplay, and suburban occult. I illustrate these worlds virtually in things resembling vidoegames alongside physical objects that carry a scent of the digital. In doing this I trace the feedback from virtual to visceral, and consider the human impact of spaces and systems broadly considered unreal. The kernels of need from which my worlds grow establish criteria for hopeful futures, and make visible the obstructions that intervene. Some of my past themes have been: the ineffability of transness in a world afraid to speak of us, maintaining a social fabric among the abused, and the challenges of personal connection amid vanishing commons. I tend to work collaboratively because this is how I know to make ideas grow larger than myself, and bridge the gap between the loftiness of world-building and the pragmatism of community-building.
  • The Black Rabbit of Inle Part 1 (video) and Elil: Cycle of the Dog Wars (painting), 2019, Tabitha Nikolai, digital video shot in virtual reality and acrylic paint on canvas, in collaboration with Allynn Carpenter, Cassandra Gladwin, Zanna Kerrigan, Lilium Kobayashi, sam, and Kelly Thomas. Photo courtesy of HOLDING Contemporary and Kristine Eudy.

  • Rich Inner Life, 2017, Tabitha Nikolai, custom gaming computer running the artist's videogame in a tank of mineral oil, fake plants, LEDs, found furniture, stickers, and a saucepan of bismuth. Photo courtesy of HOLDING Contemporary and Mario Gallucci.

  • Ineffable Glossolalia, 2017, Tabitha Nikolai, virtual environment made in the Unity game engine with music by Rani Baker. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Utopia Without You, 2018, Tabitha Nikolai, virtual environment made in the Unity game engine with original score by Rook. Courtesy of the artist.