Bombas Gens is ready to take on its new life. The old hydraulic pumps factory designed by the architect Cayetano Borso di Carminati in 1930 has been reconverted into the headquarters of Fundació Per Amor a l’Art following two years of refurbishment and expansion that has returned the building to its former glory. The project was conceived and overseen by a team of architects comprising Annabelle Selldorf, Eduardo de Miguel and Ramón Esteve, with utmost respect for the memory of the place.
For this first phase, the foundation is presenting its new headquarters, opening the art centre which takes over five of the refurbished buildings, and the Wilson Coordination Centre, dedicated to research into rare illnesses. The second phase, to be rolled out in autumn 2017, includes a garden, the air-raid shelter dating from the Civil War, the fifteenth-century bodega and the new building set aside for social action.
“As they say, third time lucky. And in our case it was true. My husband, the president of the foundation, had had his eye of two other buildings beforehand. But when he discovered Bombas Gens he instantly realised that it was exactly what we was looking for, with the needs of the foundation in mind. It was completely dilapidated, but even so it had not lost any of its innate elegance. The building deserved a much better future, and the foundation deserved a building liked this. And that was the beginning of our project which is based on a mission to share, to return to society part of what it has given to us. It is our commitment with a better Valencia”, claims Susana Lloret, director-general of Fundació Per Amor a l’Art.
THE PER AMOR A L’ART COLLECTION
The main purpose of the Bombas Gens art centre is to exhibit and share the Per Amor a l’Art private art collection with the wider public. It is an art collection, made up mainly of photography and abstract painting, comprising singular bodies of work by Spanish and international artists. At the current moment it has around 1800 works by 140 artists.
From the outset Vicente Todolí, a board member of the foundation and director of its Art & Culture area, has acted as artistic adviser to the collection. “It is a collection of exhibitions that is committed with artists. It endeavours to show their work in greater depth. The idea is to have, for instance, a whole series by a photographer, and not just two or three pieces, as is usually the case. But it is not only ambitious in this sense, because it also wishes to show how a building can be given a whole new life. I have always been in favour of recovering singular spaces for contemporary art”, Todolí explains.
The art centre’s exhibition programme, steered by Nuria Enguita, sets aside two buildings of the complex to showcase the Per Amor a l’Art Collection, rotating the contents every eight months, plus another two for temporary exhibitions (3 per year) connected with the collection. Finally, a fifth building called Nave 0 will be used for other specific projects. “Working in an art centre from its inception always represents a great challenge, and Bombas Gens is no exception. We have started the project from scratch, defining the team, designing a programme of exhibitions and activities, getting involved with the city, and establishing new relations and mutual understanding with other centres. And all this, having a special and complex collection that offers very interesting readings and suggestive approaches “.
The inaugural programme affords a rereading of the often fraught relationship between ornament and abstraction in the exhibition Ornament = Crime?. This opening presentation of the Per Amor a l’Art Collection gives us a chance to engage with various historical moments and highly specific contexts such as art in Spain in the final quarter of the twentieth century, the work of a group of Japanese photographers who renewed the vocabulary of photography in the 1960s, or different European and American vanguard movements in photography and abstract painting.
The thesis is illustrated in the works of artists like Heimo Zobernig, Eikoh Hosoe, Cristina Iglesias, Juan Uslé, Teresa Lanceta, David Reed, Anna-Eva Bergman, Aaron Siskind, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Araki, Ángela de la Cruz, Harry Callahan, Herbert Franke, Imogen Cunningham, Robert Mapplethorpe, Esteban Vicente, Inma Femenía, Nicolás Ortigosa and Hans Peter Feldmann, among others.
At once, in the exhibition A Geography of Time, the photographers Bleda y Rosa are presenting for the very first time the three series in their project Campos de batalla in their entirety. The seriousness of the research underpinning this duo’s practice has given rise to one of the most far-reaching photography-based projects of their generation, an ongoing quest to define a photography of places marked by the action of culture and especially by war. This wide selection brings together five of their most significant photography projects Campos de fútbol, Campos de batalla, Memoriales, Origen and Prontuario.
Finally, “Stories of Bombas Gens” explores the various phases in the life of the iconic building from when it was first built right up until the present day. It does so through a series of images, objects and eye-witness accounts that examine the building itself, working life inside the factory, the surrounding urban context and some of the highpoints in its history so far. The exhibition features graphic documentation, photographs and various objects found during the refurbishment as well as first-hand accounts by people who worked here or were involved in the life of the building. It also includes a series of photos of the factory taken by Manolo Laguillo.
PROGRAMME OF ACTIVITIES
The collection and the temporary exhibitions are the ground base for a programme of activities, understood as a space for outreach: a place where people can exchange and share experience and learning. Through the use of various methods, practices and proposals for creativity and collaboration, the programme will seek to open our gaze to the broader reality of art, adding an extra layer of experimentation and reflection onto the finished artwork.
The programme will take on many forms including guided tours given from the perspectives of different complementary disciplines, conversations with artists, walks, performances and live art, film and audiovisuals, symposiums and seminars, workshops and laboratories