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.”

Fashion is a major facet of cvllejerx’s art and aesthetic, fueled, in part, by millán’s longstanding desire to have a fashion line—but not necessarily to “make clothes.” Instead, the artists work with upcycling (yet another way to subvert the heteronormative capitalist patriarchy), inviting POC models to debut garments. This imperative reflects what maximiliano described as a desire “to see a reflection of ourselves…this idea of still wanting to see yourself more represented than you do.” As far as fashion is concerned, SUPER TANTRUM promises to be anything but a typical fashion show—it will be very “exaggerated and loud and not well behaved,” said millán.

Photo by Lani Milton

cvllejerx has also brought together a group of collaborators who will infuse SUPER TANTRUM with their unique visions and desires. “I feel like the relationships we’ve been building with them have been one of the best parts of this,” said maximiliano, “and just seeing all these things happen, and seeing us be able to come together and celebrate ourselves has been really beautiful.”

If you are floating around TBA this week, you may also happen to experience an appearance of cvllejerx at one of the festival events (follow them @cvllejerx on Instagram for updates). The artists plan to keep their on-the-spot happenings spontaneous, allowing the space and mood to dictate what is possible in the moment—a practice rooted in their ongoing work together. “cvllejerx is kind of like dancing to music and playing dress-up and being silly and being into yourself. And I feel like that’s what Angelica and I already do when we hang out,” said maximiliano—“cvllejerx-o’clock, Portland under new management.”

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Catch cvllejerx SUPER TANTRUM (part of THEMSELVES curated by Kristan Kennedy) at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at PICA at Hancock, 15 N.E. Hancock St. For more from cvllejerx, see their current exhibition SUCIX, on view at UNA Gallery through the end of September. Follow angélica maria millán lozano and maximiliano to learn more about their individual artistic practices and work together as cvllejerx.

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