On the evening of March 22, the University of Maine Intermedia department continued their series, Tuesdays at the IMRC, by bringing artists Gaelyn and Gustavo Aguilar into the Innovative Media, Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC). The event was free and open to the public, with a mixed crowd of Intermedia graduate students and those familiar with the artists’ work.
The Aguilars presented their latest project, “Who Eats at Taco Bell?” According to the Tuesday at the IMRC’s flyer, the project is “a socially-engaged research platform for thinking about how the interlocking dynamics of immigration, social race, and colonialism in U.S. American history continue to resonate with personal and political notions of movement, belonging, and identity.”
The two artists showed their progress through photographs, as well as different video clips that went along with their work to engage the audience. They also presented the working website to go along with “Who Eats at Taco Bell?,” known as, “Taco Talk.” “Taco Talk” is an online portal to continue the conversation of racial/ethnic identity and politics.
“This specific presentation is interesting because it is extremely current with all the political issues going on,” IMRC Public Programming & Events and Visiting Artists Program coordinator,
Eleanor Kipping, said. “It deals with issues of immigration, issues of identity, issues of belonging and colonialism. With all of the issues going on with the presidential run, that’s really relevant. It’s super current and it touches on a lot of issues that I think a lot of people can relate to whether or not they realize it.”
As the presentation went on, the two artists incorporated varying aesthetic elements, such as a live instrumental performance. In addition, they also invited the audience to participate in an activity related to their work. The activity allowed for the audience to interact with each other, and even develop their own piece of art. Audience members created either a skit or poem illustrating a specific problem they believe is happening in the world.
“I wanted the audience to think about their own work and their own life,” Gustavo Aguilar said.
“I was really excited to see their process because I am personally exploring social practice in my work,” Kipping said. “I’m an Intermedia graduate student, so I am exploring social practice and I am working with the issues of international students in the Orono area. So I was really interested in meeting them, and how they approached really big issues that cause a lot of tension and discomfort. So that was my personal investment in coming.”
Tuesdays at the IMRC still has a couple more presentations left for the rest of the semester. Some of them include a movie night on April 5, as well as a concert the following the week.
“I would say that just because this lecture series is labeled as art, I think that all people should come and check it out,” Kipping said. “We end up having people from a lot of different backgrounds: from engineering to robotics, to science to bio to biotechnology, because of the fact that it is Intermedia. So anybody from any academic background will probably be able to take something away from at least one of the presentations.”