Jai Jai   Balud,   Ex Nilalang  (Production Still) photographed by Gregory Lorenzutti 2015

Jai Jai Balud, Ex Nilalang (Production Still) photographed by Gregory Lorenzutti 2015


Ex Nilalang by collective Club Ate (Justin Shoulder & Bhenji Ra) is a body of work that uses myth as a form to explore the intersections of queer identities of the Filipino diaspora. The artists employ video as a means of telling collaborative stories – visualized as four moving portraits. Nilalang has a hybrid meaning ‘to create’ and also meaning ‘creature’. This emphasizes the nature of the work being both a transformation of existing mythologies and also the imagining of future folklore. 

The work is seeded from the artist’s queer ecology: the communities they work and play in and their families biological and chosen. These spaces, platforms and collaborations are where their stories are shared. This video cosmology is a way to represent these worlds in an alter plane. The stories are articulated in a collaboration of diverse practices: performance and craft narratives.  Part of the motivation of the work is to transform mythologies that were once used to demonize queer identities by colonial powers. In Balud the story of the Mananangaal (described as a hideous, scary woman capable of severing its upper torso and sprouting huge bat-like wings) is reimagined through the perspective of Jai Jai a performer from Tacloban. She embodies the maanangaal with a more complex identity rich with pathos with a skin sparkling with queer sensibility. She sings local waray song ‘Balud’ mourning for the loss of the other part of her body: a song of sadness but also of resistance. In Encounters with eerie inhumans we witness yearnings, complexities and utopias that resist forces of surveillance and demolition. It is no coincidence that the creatures we have been taught to hate are racialised and gendered. Yet these same creatures teach us how to reformulate kinship in ethical, non-violent ways.

The artist’s draw from their own narratives, lived experiences and personal relationships as bi-cultural Filipino-Australian queer humans/creatures using their bodies to forge connections between queer, migrant, spiritual and intercultural experiences.


QAGOMA Asia Pacific Triennial 8

In conversation with Joselina Cruz


The first three episodes of Ex Nilalang were commissioned by Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane for the Asia Pacific Triennial 8 2015-2016. This part of the project was also co-funded by NAVA's NSW Artist Grant 2015. The next episode for Ex Nilalang has been co-commissioned by acmi Melbourne for Asia TOPA and Blacktown Arts Centre for Balik Bayan 2017. 

Ex Nilalang (Balud, Dyesebel, Lolo ex Machina) 2015
Single-channel HD digital video, 16:9, colour, sound
Performers: Jai Jai (Balud); Love Kaori & Love Marie with Bhenji Ra (Dyesebel); Justin Shoulder (Lolo ex Machina)
Costume Design: Justin Shoulder in collaboration with Daniel Guarino, Anthony Aitch & Ami Shoulder; headpieces for Dysebel by Naimah Mambuay
Hair: Christian Villareal
Makeup: Felicia regina Marie R. Luna
Cinematographer: Sasha Palomares
Producers: Justin Shoulder, Christina Ra & Monica Baldeo
Production Assistants: Christian Villareal & Bill Barrinuevo
Sound Recorder: Jonathan Q. Hee Kai Choong  
Editor:  Kelli Jean Drinkwater
VFX: Bec Stegh
Composer: Nick Wales
Singer ‘Balud’: Cielo Tibe
Production Photographers: Gregory Lorenzutti & Joseph Pascual

The fourth episode of Ex Nilalang was co-commissioned by Acmi Melbourne for Asia TOPA and Blacktown Arts Centre for Balik Bayan 2017. 

Ex Nilalang (From Creature ~ From Creation) 2017
Single-channel HD digital video, 16:9, colour, sound
Written and Devised by Bhenji Ra & Justin Shoulder
Director & VFX: Tristan Jalleh
Performers Bhenji Ra & Justin Shoulder
Composer: Corin Ileto
Costume Design: Matthew Stegh
Makeup: Kiki Targé
Producer: Christina Ra
Production Assistants: Emmett Aldred & Xeno Genesis
Director of Photography: Ryan Alexander Lloyd
Camera Assistant: Bryn Whitie
Photogrammetry Assistant: Andre Piquet

Please contact for full length online viewing & potential screenings 


Interview in Peril Magazine by Kate O'Hara

Monstrous Territories, Queer Propositions: Negotiating The Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, between Australia, the Philippines, and Other (Island) Worlds  by Dr Michelle Antoinette (email to request article)

Beloved, LEAP Magazine China by Binghao Wong 2016 (see images below)