En construcción

Juan José Pulgar

4 August 2012

Photographic installation

This installation is made up of 80 images in 40 boxes arranged on the wall, in which the photos mirror the geological accumulation of strata. Here the time strata refer to the Universidad Laboral, a singular building which has been a witness to and barometer of the various social and historical changes undergone by its emplacement.
Though initially supposed to be an orphanage for miners’ children, during the actual construction it was transformed into the Universidad Laboral. The building was designed by the architect Luis Moya as a self-enclosed and self-sufficient ideal city, even equipped with a 100 hectare farm, conceived to train and educate successive generations of the children of workers as highly qualified professionals.
The overall construction began in 1948 and the works continued until brought to a sudden halt in 1957, when José Antonio Girón, the then Minister of Employment and the driving force behind these vocational schools in Spain, was dismissed without prior warning. Left unfinished for almost half a century, and surrounded by all sorts of rumours, the imposing edifice of the Universidad Laboral in Gijón was caught between the unconditional affective enthusiasm of its users and inhabitants and the lack of understanding or open rejection of those who observed it from outside as disproportionate and untimely.
Directed from the outset by the Jesuits and with its everyday running by the Poor Clare nuns, the Universidad Laboral was responsible for the education of generations of students and qualified professionals (lathe and milling machine operators, welders and industrial technicians, etc.) coming from all over Spain.
In the 1980s, the Universidad Laboral became part of Instituto Nacional de Enseñanzas Integradas and a large part of its installations fell into disuse, caught in a downward spiral of abandonment and deterioration until the Government of the Principality of Asturias took over the building in 2001 and drew up an ambitious plan to put it to various uses.