Vicente Álvarez Areces


Since eight years ago, when the people of Asturias entrusted me with the government ofthe region, I have striven to turn Gijon’s Universidad Laboral into a point of reference forcreation and innovation worldwide, combining all the features of the new paradigm ofsustainable growth that the society of our Principality has managed to put in place. That,coupled with citizens’ understanding and interest, have earned the project a widespreadand unquestionable support among the people of Asturias.The Laboral City of Culture, almost a palpable reality, embraces a number of differentcentres and services that, should they prove capable of working together with intelligence,are certain to provide a new wealth to the territory and proportion new know-how andknowledge to thousands of individuals. And as a key element in that context, the LABoralCentre for Art and Creative Industries, the most ambitious centre in the whole of theIberian Peninsula in terms of installations and programme, opened its doors only a fewmonths ago with a mission to surprise, please and elicit a creative response from us. Butthat was not its only goal: I always claimed that with the Centre, all art practitioners fromour land would avail of a new and fertile source of promotion and visibility. On anothernote, the presence among us of world opinion leaders in the art world and the in-flow ofinternational contemporary curators and museum directors provides us with an excellentshowcase to demonstrate the quality and quantity of our creativity.And Asturias has already begun its progress from this historical crossroads. And ata steady pace. Extensions-Anchors, the exhibition currently on view in several townsand villages in Asturias, represents a first step in that direction. It focuses attention oncontemporary art practice in places that are not used to seeing it. Many of the pieceson show generate a stimulating creative controversy while the international spotlight isturned on a number of local contemporary artists taking part in the initiative. In fact,some of them have already had positive responses from individuals and institutions fromoutside Spain attracted by their work in the specific locations where it is shown.Art and creation from Asturias is undergoing great change. A shift we may understandmuch better within the context of the wider cultural changes taking place in a societysuch as ours, which in less than two decades has seen the definitive transformation ofits productive model and that has now chosen a new direction in the sphere of newindustries, diversification and exploitation of intelligence and know-how as the essentialdriving forces of a richer community with less inequalities. Without this new scenario,being consolidated by the day with new initiatives with added value and connected withour best historical tradition, it would be very hard even to imagine the existence or themeaning of a project such as the LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries. Theintangible, the creative imagination and the power of ideas are turned into a fundamentalasset for us to further develop. And, in the two phases documented in this catalogue,Extensions-Anchors presents a number of proposals underscoring the key role to beplayed by Asturias’ contemporary art creation in moving further along this new path,with the crossroads well behind us now.