Matthew Prest, Nitin Vengurlekar and Malcolm Whittaker are the Shammgods. The experimental performers are part phenomenological inquiry, part existential reckoning, part rhetorical smokescreen. Why are they poised to change the world?

Our practice plays with the changing nature of cultural capital by pitting the sacredness and precariousness of the “live” in performance against ways of commodifying it and creating surplus value through ongoing forms of paratextual presence, both online and through performative interventions into everyday life. Our performances emerge out of an engagement with the work of being itself, being as work.

The core of our practice is live, movement-based performance with traces of dance, sports and comedy. Our live work grapples with the value of performance and the performing body through playing with notions of the “virtuosic,” foregrounding the labour of performing bodies, and emphasising the unique “transaction” involved in the proximity of and relationship between performing bodies and spectators. 

We come from a background of contemporary performance, and feel especially connected to the lineage of Sydney contemporary performance from the ’90s–early 2000s. We bring with us to this venture a sum of over forty years of professional practice as artists, within which we have accumulated two PhDs, a Cert IV in Small Business, a Helpmann Award, half a Masters in Political Economy and approximately $50,000 worth of superannuation between us. 

Shammgods Live

It all begins with our studio-based live performance practice. This is a physical, improvisational practice that takes place in a suburban dance studio in Marrickville/Gadigal land, aptly named Triple Menace Studios. We improvise being present and moving around with each other, to a soundscape provided by Nitin on monophonic synth and drum machine. This process leads us to some rudimentary scores and sketches of choreography, from which we compose “tracks” that form the basis of our live performance work: Shammgods Live.  

It is important that our live performance work comes out of our play together in a room. This process of play helps us find performance material that exposes the awkward, funny, transcendent potential of the vulnerable space between performer and audience.  

Shammgods Live presents our idiosyncratic versions of “virtuosity” and bodily histories accrued through decades of performance training and experience, recovering echoes, remnants, and “best bits” of practices past, and the transcendent potential and elusive magic of “being in the moment.”

Shammgods Live is the original Shammgods experience and can only be accessed in the flesh. Shammgods Live is an exclusively live product and cannot be accessed through streaming or other methods of video capture or CGI replication. Shammgods Live is on ehundred per cent Certified Pure Performance. It is our flagship venture. 

Diversification of Practice, Diversification of Business

Whilst the primary focus of Shammgods is live performance, our flagship venture attains aesthetic gravitas (and business acumen) in relation to our ancillary ventures:  

Shammwear Édition Limitée – enabling comfort to transcend the everyday.  In 2021, we launched our “bold, yet functional” line of certified fashion in an online webinar launch as part of Cementa’s Spirit of ’21 online festival. Each item of Shammwear comes with a Certificate of Authenticity, signed by each of the Shammgods, and a unique serial number, which give it “store of value” qualities for investment purposes. These items are available in our online store, and we occasionally have special pop-up store releases. For a small fee you can also submit your own personal item for certification. 

Shammgods Lawn and Garden Care – we come to you.  A comprehensive service that offers lawn mowing, whipper snipping, raking, leaf blowing, garbage removal and pruning. Each completed service comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and unique job number. You can make an online enquiry to get a free quote. This is an international service, however customers outside of Sydney incur extra travel and accommodation charges, which will be included in the quote.

Shammstars Stage and Screen Solutions – put yourself in the shammlight.  After years of struggling to “emerge” and “make it” in the cut-throat world of entertainment, we bring you a talent agency run by talent, for talent. Our philosophy towards talent is simple: if it can be put on a stage or screen we are interested. As Shakespeare once put it: “All the world’s a stage.” Stay tuned for subscription packages and a special Shammcase event in 2022.

We also have a number of other diversification streams in the pipeline that include, but are not limited to, self-help, consultancy, domestic cleaning, babysitting and cryptocurrency.  

This article was originally published in Artist Profile, Issue 58, 2022.

19–22 May 2022
Various venues, Kandos, New South Wales

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