Biennale of Sydney

Club Ate (Bhenji Ra and Phasmahammer)

Bhenji_Ra_Talking_Bodies_Katy_Green_Loughrey

Club Ate

Established 2014 in Warrang / Sydney, Australia

Phasmahammer (aka Justin Talplacido Shoulder)
Born 1985 in Warrang / Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Warrang / Sydney

Bhenji Ra
Born 1990 in Warrang / Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Warrang / Sydney


Club Ate is a collective formed in 2014 by multi-form artists Justin Talplacido Shoulder and Bhenji Ra. Their practice traverses video, performance and club events with an emphasis on community activation. Collaborating with members of the queer Asia-Pacific diaspora in Australia and the Philippines, the collective are invested in creating their own future folklore.

Phasmahammer is the pseudonym of shape-shifting artist Justin Talplacido Shoulder. Working primarily in performance, sculpture, video and collective events Phasmahammer is an eco-cosmology of alter personas based on queered ancestral myth. Creatures gather embodied through hand crafted costumes and prosthesis and animated by their own gestural languages. The artist uses their body and craft as an instrument of metaphysics towards a queer Filipinx futurism.

Bhenji Ra is a transdisciplinary artist currently based on Gadigal land, Eora Nation. Her practice combines dance, video, illustration and community activation. Her work dissects cultural theory and identity, centralising her own personal histories as a tool to reframe performance. She is the mother of Western Sydney based collective and ballroom house SLÉ.

Phasmahammer (aka Justin Talplacido Shoulder)

A Chimera tumbles through space and time. A composite ball of wings, scales, teeth, and magma rearranging in flux. Summoned during The Great Delusion of Capital Desire – a great unending scream piercing through the haze of a geo-engineered death spiral ::S

Free falling they recall the past in order to imagine a future of infinite-love-possibility. Rhincodon cruise through oceanic malls, Bakunawa ride countercurrents all the way to the Skyscraper: Jaws of the Horizon aka The Edge. Future life forms abound vertically in the great continual UNFOLDING ~ 

AE† is an accumulative body {of work} by Phasmahammer; a collective of beasts arranged in resistance to articulate this cosmo-ecological epic.

In the first EPISODE: Jaws of the Horizon, the performer becomes an interspecies elemental conduit. Filipinx Myth, Puppetry, queer spectacle and ritual meet to elaborate a syncretic futurism. A Mangalag psychopomp born from chaos channels rage-energy here to answer the CALL > > >

Bhenji Ra

Aunty holds my arm up as if it’s floating on a seabed. She tells me to mirror her, her body a reflection of mine, my body a reflection of hers. Moving currents slowly form at the tips of my fingers, a tool to read both space and sea. She tells me to soften my focus, remembering this is an offering to receive and be received. An exchange of body and gesture. A diasporic dowry laced with blood memory and a mapping to home (bahay).

If reading comes from shade, then this is pre-Hispanic shade, a deep call to the ballroom girls and oceanic mothers, shared nails, shared hands, shared histories stored in the corner of our bodies, kept for ancestral turn ups and community hall balls.

Three things to remember:

  1. Pangalay can be danced anywhere to any music
  2. Pangalay dies when we stop dancing it (I sense we die too)
  3. Keep elbows above shoulders

For the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Filipina Australian artist Bhenji Ra engages Tausug Elder and Pangalay master Sitti Obeso from southern Philippines in performative conversation at the Powerhouse Museum. Bleeding the lines between ocean and land, traditional and contemporary, the original and the diasporic body, this exchange between teacher and student is a generous sharing of a relationship sustained by periodical visits to home country, the sharing of personal ephemera, and online messages across the Pacific Ocean. The series of performance lectures offers an alternative mode of cultural pedagogy that avoids reductive notions around performing culture and learning repertoire.

Courtesy the artists

Exhibited at