Born 1985, Gadigal Country, Sydney. Lives and works on Gadigal/Wangal Country, Sydney
Justin Talplacido Shoulder, also known by his pseudonym, PHASMAHAMMER, is a self-taught multidisciplinary practitioner. A founding member of queer artist collective The Glitter Militia (Monsta Gras, Pink Bubble) with partner and key collaborator Matthew Stegh, and Club Ate with collaborator Bhenji Ra, Shoulder works primarily in live performance, sculpture, video and collective events. He is particularly known for his performances that developed from the underground context of Sydney’s queer performance scene. Built around an eco-cosmology of alter personas based on queered ancestral myth, the creatures birthed are embodied through hand-crafted costumes and prosthesis, and animated by their own gestural languages. Shoulder believes in performance and shared ceremony as communal medicine for difficult times.
Justin Shoulder provides an insight into his work in Tagalog in the following text.
|Nagsimulang magtawag ang malumanay
na baklang Engkanto
Sumasayaw sa taas ng tigang na lupa
habang hinalo-halo ang mga buto
Nagsimulang tumubo ang mga sinaunang binhi
Kasabay ng tunog ng pangako
|Sirens are sung by gentle Sissy Encangto
They dance atop the dry soil,
stirring the bones ~
Ancient seedlings begin to arouse,
Kindled by the sound of promise ~
|Payasong Botaniko *BUNGKAL* at *grunt*
Sila’y pinagpapawisan habang uminit ng umiinit, habang nananampalataya sa kanilang Harlequeens
|Clown Botanists *HOE* and *HUMP*
They perspire in the climbing heat, In devotion to their Harlequeens
|Nag-aalaga ng mga nilalang na hindi maituturing halaman,
hayop o makina Kasabay ng pollinator, parasite at host
|Tending to beings not quite flora, fauna or machine.
Simultaneously pollinator, parasite and host
|Isang malaking radyo ang nagpadala ng awtomatikkong tawag
*KAIN!* *LIPAD!* *LABAN* O *KANTOT!*
|A boom box transmits an automated call:
*FEED!* *FLIGHT!* *FIGHT!* OR *FUCK!*
|Mga nilalang ng hinaharap ka-bloom
Umusbong mula sa bangkay ng nakaraang mundo
|Future beings Ka-bloom
Spored on the corpses of the previous world...
by Paschal Daantos Berry
From the deconsecrated mangroves
and the burning palisade
they changed shape.
Sky is blue. Sea is indigo. The scent of sea spray.
Voice 1: The peace treaty between Sky and Sea is broken by a golden she-kite.
Bored with the world, she splashes the Sky with the skirt of the Sea, creating indigo-bleed across his body.
Sky creates cloud with the stain giving birth to rocks that fall to Sea.
The Sea screams in fire language.
Chorus: Darkness begets darkness. Lover, I will not yield until you say sorry!
Voice 1: A long war ensues, creating a cycle of beginnings and endings –
Voice 2: Land floats. Water jets across earth. Forests grow. Volcanoes burst. Land splits.
An archipelago born.
Sky looks below, at her. Sobs at the beauty. Sea too is taken by this accident, shimmering as she exhales from exhaustion. Sea embraces the creation in ripples and waves, looks up and asks for peace.
They kiss at the horizon.
Voice 2: Noticing the kite for the first time, Sky and Sea sound a deep murmur –
Chorus: Do something good. Leave a legacy.
Voice 2: A bamboo springs from the fertile soil, standing tall and trembling in the wind.
Voice 1: The kite perches upon it. She pecks at the wood creating a crack, splitting to reveal a man and a woman.
Low lit purple – going up to bright white
Aposematic patterns extend to form Transformation Topography
Scattering of black confetti on white floor reveals patterns from projections.
Performance text: Justin Shoulder, The River Eats
A broken woman. Burning wood. The scent of sour bodies under metal.
Her body remembers this feeling. Like being wrenched open and exposed.
Whistling wind. The sound of bamboo cracking.
She holds the physical memory of this. The pain, a lifetime of voyages from other lands, forced from one place to another. It’s written on her body in indigo, the stars, the way home, the lines tethered to her birthplace. The languages she bridged to get here. Ashes on her tongue, her shoulder tears open at the heat, under the mark depicting the wings of a kite and the water glyph that takes one to the afterlife –
Human head releases slowly from deep cleft of Tardigrade, slow birthing to Wagner’s Parsifal. Weight of body releases onto cool metal – silence.
Performance text: Justin Shoulder, Carrion
SOLOIST: Ave Maria Purisima, sin pecado concebida –
ALL: Viva! Viva! Viva! Viva! Viva!
Black. Fireworks. The whistle before an explosion.
The saint glides above a sea of black hair. Marching bands, conflicting Elvis and Broadway tunes.
Rear projected videos.
Video 1. Libya: youtube.com/watch?v=O-wFcYrkKeo
Voice: The butterfly exploits her grace, holding babies, visiting ruins, her tongue coated with honey, her eyes flapping –
Video 2. United States Capitol: youtube.com/watch?v=4ZnnvbKyNCQ
Voice: The butterfly shapeshifts into a kite. Yellow for nostalgia. What was that song they taught us about a ribbon and an old oak tree?
She weaves through the congress-men. Takes centre stage among the flap-flap-clap of hands.
Remove panel from between thighs, change into small body, head sheltered by roof panel, stick in front of face, forearms in line with panel, elbows parallel or angled 45 degrees. Torso slightly angled, isolated upper body still, lower body shimmering.
Performance text: Justin Shoulder, AEON
Video 3. Manila: facebook.com/watch/?v=1105437789609901
Voice: She holds a picture of the dead in front of a burning house. The languages she bridged to get here. Ashes on her tongue –
Her body remembers this feeling.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
Costume and set design: Justin Shoulder and Matthew Stegh
Lighting design: Fausto Brusamolino
Composer: Corin Ileto
Producer: Jason Cross and Insite Arts
Costume and set design assistant: Brenda Lam