Latitudes participated in an online roundtable
, and wrote the exhibition text, for Lara Almarcegui
(Gravels), currently on view at the Centre d'art la Panera
, Lleida, until 30 May. “What possibilities begin to emerge when the excavation at a quarry is stopped?”, the text
wonders. More specifically, when La Plana del Corb, a gravel works operated by the Sorigué
group, temporarily stops its operations for a single day? On 19 February
this year visitors experienced this usually bustling and noisy industrial complex near the town of Balaguer as a place of contemplation. (The site is also home to the Sorigué foundation
’s art space Planta
.) In the exhibition, curated by La Panera's director Cèlia del Diego, a video projection
documents the same stopped quarry. With none of the usual droning machinery, hissing water jets, or crunching and mounding gravel, we witness a stark granular landscape of artificial cliffs, islands, and isthmuses of terrain, from which the long necks of conveyor belts emerge, frozen as if mechanical dinosaurs. Lara juxtaposes this stopped clock of extraction with a wall text
which presents a calculation of nothing less than the principal geological ingredients of the Pyrenees.
Gravels extracted from La Plana del Corb
are destined for use in the concrete and asphalt that characterises the built environment. These diverse miscellanies of small stones and mineral debris are eroded and displaced mountains, an abiding disaggregation of the Pyrenees. Matter moved down to the lowlands like lithic glaciers over a length of time on a human scale that may as well be forever. Once gouged by ice and flushed out of the mountains by turbulent streams rushing through the ancient pinnacles and foothills, it travelled in floods, thickened primal river beds, filled valleys – spreading wide and washing out into deep deposits and deltas. Quartzes, slates, and hornfels; schists, limestones, and granites: picking through the gravel is like sorting evidence from a primordial explosion. Looking from the video to the mountains in list form we read across and upwards from one world to another. From future buildings and infrastructure to the ancient natural formations that their components once came from.