FARMINGTON — Experiential ‘artifacts’ linked to the National Historic Lewis and Clark Trail are on display at the University of Maine at Farmington with the exhibit “Borders, Corridors and Lines of Desire.” This UMF Art Gallery exhibition will be running from Sept. 13 to Oct. 21, with an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13.

This installation is created by TUG Collective, a research effort formed by UMF professors Gaelyn and Gustavo Aguilar, that examines the cultural politics of contemporary borders in North America.

The exhibit of six works acts as a platform for thinking about how the interlocking dynamics of colonialism, immigration and social race in U.S. history continue to resonate with a range of critical themes. Each work breaks into history and exposes the seams of some of the most poetic visions that U.S. Americans have of themselves as a country founded on the ideals of democracy and freedom.

For the past few years, the Aguilars have been engaged in linking their work along the borders and borderlands of North America with a large-scale project on the Lewis and Clark Trail. This historic east-west passageway was forged by a 19th-century expedition that, according to Gaelyn Aguilar, “combined American exceptionalism with continental expansion, annexation and occupation.”

The first phase of the Aguilars’ engagement was a period of intense fieldwork in which they logged more than 6,000 miles and worked with 12 partners while performing, facilitating workshops and serving over 900 tacos. The upcoming exhibit is the next phase with a rendering of the artifacts that bring the history, its ideals and contradictions to light.

“To begin to see the contradictions,” writes Amitava Kumar, award-winning writer and journalist, “is to become aware of history and of another relationship that this history has with the present.”

In October, the Aguilars will be traveling to France to give the plenary lecture at The Figure of the Migrant and the Representation of Migration in the Arts and Literature conference at the University of Le Mans. Selections from their exhibition will be on view in November at the 2018 Biennial at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland. Later in the fall, they will be performing one of TUG’s earlier works at the Colby College Museum of Art.

The UMF Art Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday and by appointment. For more information or to make an appointment, contact Sarah Maline at [email protected] or 207-778-1062 or visit artgalleryumf.org.

Gaelyn and Gustavo Aguilar, working on “A Taco Stand on Every Corner” while in residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska.

Video still from “The Turn Around.” (Courtesy of TUG Collective)


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