TBA:17

cvllejerx talks SUPER TANTRUM

TBA resident artists bring together fashion, performance, and poetry "as a form of resistance"

“Is it…‘civil-jerks’?” I posed this question to cvllejerx, aka. artists angélica maria millán lozano and maximiliano, on a three-way call last week. I could hear millán chuckle in response to my attempt to pronounce the name of their collaboration, which is in residence with the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Arts Festival. Merging “fashion, performance, and poetry as a form of resistance,” cvllejerx will be presenting an event on Wednesday, Sept. 13, as part of TBA called SUPER TANTRUM—a title that gestures to the name of their collaborative as well as the ethos of their work.

“We’ve gotten that a lot from different people, which is actually kind of cool I think,” millán said in response to my mispronunciation. maximiliano added that a funny unplanned aside to the project has been “this ongoing thing about how people pronounce the name, all the different ways it’s been pronounced.”

In fact, “cvllejerx” is a version of the Spanish word “callejero,” which, as millán described, could mean something like “hooligan.” She continued, “you’re like a callejero when you hang out in the street, at least, in Colombia that’s how people use it. That’s kind of the attitude we want to have, and so the ‘x’ is just de-gendering the word.”

cvllejerx emerged from millán and maximiliano’s experiences of multicultural inbetweenness. “I’m Mexican and black, so I feel like and that’s kind of like where that speaks to for me, and all of these ideas and influences coming together” said maximiliano, who is also part of the Portland-based Nat Turner Project. “There’s this very specific space that is in-between, you know, being from two different places,” added Millán, “…this kind of in-between space that we always operate in that is very rich.”

The artists have specifically named the white supremacist roots of Portland, which is the birthplace of and current homebase of cvllejerx. millán described her experience of moving to the city: “I’m Colombian and I came to the U.S. at about 12, and moving to Portland has been a huge sort of change, almost like culture shock, too, because I’ve never been surrounded by so many white people,” she said. “It almost felt kind of like when I first moved to the United States…like, this is a very strange place, (I) don’t feel totally welcome.”

Photo by Lani Milton

cvllejerx practice and celebrations entail a form of resistance, all which will erupt during SUPER TANTRUM on Wednesday night. “For me is this righteous like burst of energy, whether that’s either kind of irrational, or happy, or whatever. I like this idea that we’re celebrating that, especially, in this moment, obviously, having Donald Trump as our President,” said Millán, “This idea that we have the right to cry out about it, and we have the right to also bring attention to ourselves, and celebrate ourselves, and be unapologetic about it.”

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TBA: shamanism for today

Korean performer Dohee Lee's blend of technology, ritual, and engagement gets TBA:17 off to a stirring start

Dohee Lee’s performance Mu at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s 15th annual TBA festival is only one of the elements of her ongoing, multidisciplinary Puri Arts project. The Korean word, “puri” refers to the relieving and releasing of suppressed or suffering spirits, while “Mu” means shaman. From the start of the show (which opened Friday night and repeats at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, in the Winningstad Theatre) it’s clear that these are not allegorical titles. Lee is embodying her own new form of performative shamanism which combines traditional spiritual and theatrical elements with modern technology, contemporary settings, and current events. The large-scale projection that opens the show follows Lee as she literally brings her rituals to the streets of the modern world, walking in full costume through the streets of New York as if she was leading a procession of monks instead of curious spectators filming her on their phones.

She accompanied the large-scale projection on Korean barrel-drums, wearing the same amazing costume seen in the video. She was draped in a coat of hundreds of long paper strips bearing writing mostly in Korean, though some appeared to be in English. She wore a simple but elegant and somewhat official folded paper hat and brandished a small hand gong that carried remarkably well through the theater. The paper strips, which could easily be prayers or spells or remembrances of the dead, fluttered behind her on her long sidewalk processional as she chanted, danced, and performed a series of genuflections. While clearly following a set ritual, she demonstrated a seasoned performer’s ability to adapt to the unscripted interruptions from the world around her.

Dohee Lee’s technological shamanism.

One of the most affecting moments in that video came from an encounter with a police SUV. First appearing in the background for a moment, it later dominated the frame when the scene cut to Lee in an alleyway, kneeling in a doorframe and reciting something to herself. The SUV bristled with authority, aggressively stating its right to be where it stood. Its presence seemed to underscore Lee’s status as interloper, as the trespasser interrupting the everyday with a spiritual duty. At the moment it seemed the cops might get out of the car or squawk their siren, Lee stood up, held out her gong, and without looking back processed out of the alleyway, as if she were leading the SUV. It was the first of many moments where the line became blurry between whether Lee was using ritual as a type of performance, or she was performing an actual ritual.

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DanceWatch Weekly: It’s TBA time!

Punch this week's dance ticket with a host of provocative choices from the Time-Based Art festival

TBA: 17 is here! TBA, or Time-Based Art, is the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art’s yearly festival of performances, workshops, artist talks, visual art exhibitions, music performances, and after-hours parties. PICA’s 11-day festival, which spreads out to venues across the city, is inherently interdisciplinary and features local, national and international artists coming from as far away as Singapore, Morocco, and France.

It’s an exciting rush of nonstop activity from morning to night, and offers a mind-altering, opinion-changing, heart-opening extravaganza of the senses. Ready-set-go!

Below I have highlighted just the dance-centric TBA events, because that’s what we do here at DanceWatch. For the full festival schedule go to PICA’s website.

Performances this week

Will Rawls in I make me [sic]. Photo courtesy of the Portland Institute For Contemporary Art.

I make me [sic] (TBA:17)
Will Rawls
September 8-9
PICA at Hancock, 15 N.E. Hancock St
In this West Coast Premiere, Brooklyn-based writer, choreographer, and performer Will Rawls will perform I make me [sic], a nonlinear, live composition that uses movement, objects, sound, and text to address “issues of authorship, memory, race and subjectivity as intersecting monuments in need of constant undoing.”

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