upcoming Project

In Philippine folk tales, the balete tree (Ficus indica) is considered the dwelling place for supernatural beings. In this live work, the balete becomes a portal to the Skyworld – ‘a Queer Filipinx Future Folkloric space of storytelling’—where installation, visual arts, theatre and dance combine. Elaborately costumed performers transform into ‘creatures’: hybrids between animal, plant, human and machine, animated by their own gestural languages and a live soundscape.

ANITO will premiere at MONA FOMA in Hobart in February 2024.

Created By
Justin Shoulder

Justin Talplacido Shoulder’s ANITO is a visual dance theatre work featuring sculptures animated by live performance, lighting, AV and sound. ANITO extends on Shoulder’s Phasmahammer, an eco-cosmology of alter personas based on queered ancestral myth.

ANITO refers to ancestor spirits (umalagad) or nature spirits and deities (Diwata) in the indigenous animistic religions of precolonial Philippines. These beings also appear in comic books, anime and contemporary pop culture. The work encourages other ways of seeing and being in the world that attune with non-human entities.

The world of ANITO is a meeting place; a fertile petri dish incubating distinct and recombinant organisms. Beings that have survived and can thrive in new ways through their interrelationships and evolving landscapes to show us (humans) how resistance and collaboration give rise to hope.

Merging installation, visual arts, theatre and dance audiences are transported into the Skyworld — a luscious future folkloric space of possibility. The Skyworld is a multi-layered world that has its origins in Tagalog myth, and is now imagined as a contemporary cultural framework to tell stories within.

In ANITO, the Creatures (persona) birthed and inhabited by Shoulder are hybrids between human, machine, animal and plant embodied through hand crafted costumes, masks or prosthesis and animated by their own gestural languages.

 The dynamic transformative set design (sculptures) become an immersive evolving landscape which embrace, shelter and collapse around these creatures.

The production design (objects, costumes, masks, sets/ sculptures) are inspired by, and draw from, investigation into spectacle techniques (quick change costumes and masquerade), filipinx textiles and biomorphic design (looking at how folkloric craft traditions approach design inspired by nature).

 The project brings together an established core ensemble of Australian artists who have worked in collaboration with Shoulder on a significant body of their work.

Shoulder’s artistic partnerships with Matthew Stegh (Lead Set/Props/Costume Design/Maker), Victoria Hunt (Performance Director), Corin Ileto (Composer) and Fausto Brusamolino (Projection/Lighting Design), Eugene Choi (co-performer) are defined by an intimate and shared understanding of process, aesthetics, and creative aspirations. They directly contribute to the conceptual and dramaturgical development of the work via an ongoing exchange of research, reflection, making and realisation.



Directed, Performed and Co-conceived by
Justin Talplacido Shoulder
Production Design
Matthew Stegh and Justin Talplacido Shoulder
Sound Design and live score
Corin Ileto
Performer and co-generator
Eugene Choi
Figment persona costume designer
Anthony Aitch and Justin Talplacido Shoulder
Mentor and collaborator
Victoria Hunt
Lighting and video design
Fausto Brusmolino
Costume design technicicans
Brenda Lam
Luna Aquatica
With special thanks to
Marrugekku, Carriageworks & Talking Bodies



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