LOCATION: Lleida, Spain
NEAREST AIRPORTS: Barcelona airport, 2 hours drive
Perhaps one of the most unexpected and surreal of my pilgrimages, Planta is the Spanish word for ‘plant’, which is exactly what this is: a cement plant. With neat piles of rock and sand heaped under cranes and rows of rounded concrete slabs, the landscape looks like what you might find on the moon, should we be mining it. It is still and unmoving on a Saturday. I am assured by the owner Ana Vallés that should I come mid-week, the factory would be buzzing with action. Hard to imagine in the dry 40°c heat of central Spain.

Fundació Sorigué, the foundation of the Sorigué Business Group, has taken an internal approach to their social responsibility and have applied a philosophy of nurturing talent, innovation and responsibility to their corporate ethos. This translates to research into sustainable industrial materials and working with creatives as a resource. One of the iterations of this is displaying works from the corporate collection on site, at the quarry, in buildings made by the factory workers and from the experimental fabrics that they are themselves producing.

You can visit Planta on certain weekends in small groups and by booking in advance. As I write, there are three spaces advertised on the site as visitable. The Bill Viola Ocean without a Shore installation, a almost exact replica of Double Bind by Juan Muñoz installation at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, and an Ansalm Kiefer custom made room for the three works of the collection (oh and they are excellent Kiefers). I was lucky enough to be granted entrance to the William Kentridge warehouse where More Sweetly Play the Dance is installed. At the moment it is not advertised on the site and they are considering whether to add it to the public tour, which I hope they do.

Lérida is a very small town, roughly two hours drive from Barcelona. Though it doesn’t sound like there is much to see (only 3 works!) it is, in my opinion, very much worth the drive. You can also visit the small Sorigué Museum in the headquarters 10 minutes away (I saw a satisfying exhibition of Mat Collishaw) which hosts temporary exhibitions based on its excellent corporate collection, but the truly remarkable visit is with Planta. Where the land is no longer being mined, the company plants olive trees (a conscious play on words with the title) from which they produce olive oil that in future they plan to sell. You can smell the trees if you stand downwind. 

I am curious to see how this project develops. It is a private space and the owners are under no pressure or obligation to satisfy visitors numbers or ticket sales. It is this that makes the visit really special as you are most likely going to be guided through alone, or with a very small number of people, lending a sense of intimacy to each visit. The installations have been executed exquisitely well and the atmosphere is industrially clinical. I doubt you will ever see works of art in a more striking setting.