desde . La Laboral (2009)
Audio Tour 57'10''
“desde” (from) means time and space: “from then… until now…” or “from here… to there…”.
“desde” is an artistic project with site-specific characteristics and the possibility of moving to places whose original use is transformed into arts centres. It’s a project on the way on how we practise space on a daily scope, on the kind of relation that it developed between users and the surrounding architecture, on the connection between memories and the places.
Following a year of interviews carried out with a broad range of people who have been or are part of the building, “desde” is presented as a video installation (desde . Serralves, Porto, 2004) or an audio-guide (desde . Arteleku San Sebastian, 2004 and desde . La Laboral, Gijón, 2009).
Between a guide tour and a documentary, the audience has the chance to experience the spaces described in person. The discourse is developed using the field of memory and interpretation and the gaze of the audience is added to that of the interviewee, so creating an imaginary superposition of mental spaces.
In the mid 40s, after a serious occupational accident in a mine, Franco's Minister of Labour decided to build an orphanage for miners' children. While it was still under construction, the orphanage was included in the project "Labour Universities"; technical schools for children with little money. The school and the boarding houses were run by Jesuits, who thus hosted thousands of children from all over Spain. Conceived as a self-sufficient city, 'La Laboral' had its own church, theatre, farms, playgrounds... all of which were built in an eclectic style that was a combination of various neo-classical styles.
With the advent of democracy, 'La Laboral' was included in the public school network. During the 80s the boarding house was no longer necessary, and vocational training was in decline. A large part of the building remained empty.
After years of uncertainty and controversy, the government of Asturias created "Laboral City of Culture", a group of institutions dedicated to culture and teaching that currently occupies most of 'Laboral'.
Among those interviewed: former and current students and professors, employees of the centre (those in charge of programming, cleaning, management, and administration), politicians responsible for the project, the architects who conducted the renovation, artists, neighbours...