Happening in and around the White Cube this week: Carrion
What does it mean to be human in an era where our destructive influence on our planet is quickly redefining the laws of nature? Justin Shoulder, an interdisciplinary artist from Sydney, Australia, questions just that.
His main body of work, Phasmahammer, is a collection of personas developed from queer ancestral myth, embodied by their own distinct gestures and carefully crafted costumes.
Phasma, referring to spirits, and hammer referring to the German word, wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosity, are conjoined to give a name to Shoulder’s body or cosmology of spirits.
The name, which sounds like it could be a metal band, uses recognizable symbols from popular culture to make it accessible to all audiences.
Working with traditional cyborg archetypes, Shoulder uses his body to forge connections between queer, migrant, spiritual, and intercultural experiences.
Carrion is one of many such shapeshifting creatures navigating a post-Anthropocene world, trying to survive. Carrion, the name meaning rotting meat or flesh, begins as a tardigrade, a small microscopic organism that can survive extreme temperatures and transforms into various life forms throughout the piece.
Moving away from club scenes, short performances and installation work, Carrion will be performed at Monument-National over Halloween in Montreal, as the last stop after a four-week long tour throughout Europe.
In such a setting, Shoulder’s work brings together worlds requiring a theatre space to see into its narrative language of spectacle, cabaret and opera.
Unlike club spaces with overt symbols and competing stimuli, the audience is able to witness the becomings and all the in-between moments of liminal transformations. There will be no changing behind the curtain, pushing the function of multiple objects, removing all artifice, and revealing Carrion’s bare bones. Like a chimera, everything is reconfigured.
In Australia, Halloween is not the same cultural phenomenon as it is in North America. Though it has become more and more an applied celebration, mostly for commercial reasons, but also drawing in individuals to the potential to work with horror and community interaction. That being said, Carrion is not your typical Halloween party, nor is it your Rocky Horror Picture Show. Instead, it taps into ideas of horror, ritual and community spectacle, giving us something to see, something to witness, and something to think about.
For tickets and more information visit m-a-i.qc.ca/carrion