The AP Questionnaire: TUG Collective

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This summer, Gustavo and Gaelyn Aguilar, aka TUG Collective join the Art Practice faculty. Check out their responses to the AP Questionnaire!

TUG is an interdisciplinary arts collective that creates contact zones where people can generate insights about, and produce actions around, contemporary social issues.

What was the last thing you made?

We shot a film along the National Historic Lewis and Clark Trail in September, and finally edited it in November. Right now, we are working on printing Ethnographic Contrafacta, a series of poems and graphic scores.

What was the last thing you read?

Gustavo: James Gleick’s Time Travel
Gaelyn: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States

What was the last exhibition you saw?

It was not an exhibition, per se, but during our recent residency at The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, we took a tour of the Duncan House, the private home of Robert and Karen Duncan in Lincoln, NE that houses the work of nearly 2,000 contemporary artists. It was an overwhelming experience, taking in so much work, all at once. A highlight for Gustavo was experiencing The Dinner, Death of Nikola No. 1 by Nicola Costantino. Gaelyn could have stared at Andrew Moore’s The Yellow Porch, Sheridan County, Neb. (from his Dirt Meridian collection) for hours.

What motivates your practice?

Our practice is motivated by our effort to triangulate what Performance Studies scholar and activist, Dwight Conquergood, used to refer to as the three C’s—creativity, critique, and citizenship. Or, if you like the alliteration, but not the letter ‘c’, then artistry, analysis, and activism.

How has your practice changed?

For much of our history together, we have been primarily a performative collective, with relationships and ideas coming into being by virtue of us being with collaborators, doing the things we were doing. This is still our primary impulse, but our practice has begun to incorporate more of the archive, in which ideas take a physical form that endures.

Who do you most admire?

Gustavo: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And, of course, my parents.
Gaelyn: At this moment, the medical and humanitarian workers in those parts of Syria that have been, and still are being, pummeled by the multi-sided armed conflict. Also, any and all investigative journalists who are working tirelessly to help avert our country’s descent into tyranny. Finally, the folks at YES! Magazine and the Positive Futures Network who relentlessly remind me that viable alternatives exist.

Your favorite artwork made before your lifetime?

Gustavo: It’s too difficult to pick a favorite, but it would have been incredible to have experienced Arseny Avraamov’s Symphony of Factory Sirens (Public Event, Baku 1922), which involved, bus and car horns, factory sirens, cannons, a band, a choir, and the foghorns of the entire Soviet flotilla in the Caspian Sea among other noise makers.
Gaelyn: Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem. It’s been a favorite of mine since performing it in college; now it’s become part of my Shower Concert repertoire.

Your favorite artwork made during your lifetime?

Gustavo: The Silence of Nduwayezu from Alfredo Jaar’s The Rwanda Project. One million slides, light table, magnifiers, and illuminated wall text—such a powerful piece.
Gaelyn: I first read about Jorge Preloran’s Imaginero in a published conversation between the Argentine filmmaker and legendary film professor, Howard Suber. It was many years before I actually saw the film; Preloran gave me his complete catalogue on VHS when I eventually met him in Los Angeles, but by that time I was already enrolled in a Ph.D. program in social anthropology at the University of Southern California, a prominent center for visual anthropology, largely because of this film and its maker.