The Asturian Artists’ Archive

Since 2010 the Mediateca_Archivo [Mediatheque archive] at LABoral holds the Asturian Artists’ Archive, an open and constantly updated tool serving artists, curators, critics, gallery owners and cultural managers.

Published: Jul 03, 2013
The Asturian Artists’ Archive

The Asturian Artists’ Archive was created in 2010. Photo: LABoral/Marcos Morilla

By Montaña Hurtado Muñoz, (@zapatosrosas), Zapatos Rosas

LABoral is defined on its website as “a multidisciplinary institution that produces, disseminates and encourages access to new cultural forms rooted in the creative use of ICTs” and its lines of action include the development of exhibitions, production support and artistic research and education. Its vocation is clearly international, yet at the same time, and quite correctly, “it acts as an anchorage point for the purpose of fostering dynamic relationships between the artistic and creative communities in Asturias and the rest of the world”. In this sense, a notable example can be found in the setting up of the Asturian Artists’ Archive which gathers documentation in different formats and media of artists who are Asturian or resident in Asturias. The date taken as the starting point is the year 1950, when modernity started to emerge in this region and also in doing so it compliments another archive located at the Casa Museo de Jovellanos [Gijón].

The Asturian Artists’ Archive was created in 2010, at a time which saw the development of similar projects in Spain linked to a specific region, (such as the Archivo de Creadores de Madrid [Archive of Creators from Madrid] based at Matadero Madrid or the Archivo de Artistas de Castilla y León [Archive of Artists from Castile and Leon], located at MUSAC) or a specific cultural institution (such as the Archivo de Artistas de Hangar [Archive of Artists from Hangar] or the Archivo de Jóvenes Artistas en el entorno de Artium [Archive of Young Artists in the surroundings of Artium]). In other autonomous regions various types of initiatives were set up with different formats including the publication of Arte desde Andalucía para el siglo XXI [Art from Andalusia for the 21st Century], edited by the regional government of Andalusia and coordinated by art critic Iván de la Torre, or in Extremadura, the website that I manage myself. However, all of these initiatives have been developed on a territorial basis while in other contexts, such as in Latin America, there are archives of artists at a national level. For this reason, there has been a growing awareness of the need for networking among the different archives with the intention of creating a national archive.

The Asturian Artists’ Archive, as we can read on the LABoral website, “aims to become a key tool in drawing the map of Asturian culture”. We can find artists with strong links to sciences, new technologies, sound experimentation, music, architecture, the performing arts, industrial design or fashion and accessories design. Along with this, one of the objectives held by the Asturian Artists’ Archive is to dynamise its contents and collections “by means of archiving, communication and exhibition”. In this way, the archive aims to “create a real community with everyone designing new forms of visibility for the artists who make it up”.

Mediateca Archivo

The Asturian Artists’ Archive has a physical version, located for public consultation at LABoral’s Mediateca_Archivo [Mediatheque_Archive], an open access and free space dedicated to documentation, consultation and the diffusion of the art of today, in printed, digital and audiovisual formats where the whole archive of all the works exhibited at the centre is also kept. Additionally, Mediateca_Archivo has an online version hosted on the LABoral website, which acts as a directory and links the available information on the archive’s different artists with other content on LABoral’s web, including participation in exhibitions or interviews in audiovisual format, an important line of work which is maintained and reinforced with a more prominent space on the website to promote greater awareness of the archive and its contents, although it should be pointed out that it is the best-positioned in searches of all the existing archives in Spain.

Versión web del Archivo de Artistas Asturianos

At the same time, and in their interest of dynamising the archive’s collection and support the artists who form part of it, LABoral organises calls for proposals which are specifically aimed at artists belonging to the archive such as the call to design four limited-edition T-shirts to mark the fourth anniversary of the opening of LABoral, or the one which is currently open - to develop an artistic project which will be published on the front page of the newspaper El Comercio.

Presently, the archive has over one hundred artists, although the intention is to be able to reach three hundred names in the near future. The character of the archive is open and evolving, it is constantly updated and, contrary to what often happens in similar archives, there is no selection committee that meets regularly to select new artists. There are two ways for an artist to become part of the Asturian Artists’ Archive: the first is that the artist makes an application to the Centre by sending his/her details and documentation; the second is that a concrete interest in an artist’s work is perceived by the Centre. For this purpose, the two people responsible for updating the archive, among other duties, carry out regular searches in exhibition catalogues or in the results from grant or residency calls to find out about new Asturian artists, especially those who have had to leave Asturias to studying a degree in Fine Arts.

Similarly, from the centre there is permanent contact with the member artists of the archive to find out what their interests and needs are, mainly in the field of education in order to fill the existing gaps in Asturias with respect to the lack of higher education in Fine Arts, particularly in audiovisual subjects and new technologies.

To sum up, we can conclude that the archive is not exclusively designed as a resource or a training and research tool: it is looking not only to archive but to also act as a real and necessary platform which brings new energy into the Asturian cultural scene, turning LABoral into a meeting point that connects artists with curators, researchers, critics, gallery owners and cultural managers.

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