Montserrat Soto

Throughout her career, Montserrat Soto has tried to achieve a synthesis between photographic images and real spaces. For example, last year at the Sala Montcada, in her hometown of Barcelona, Soto installed a work that consisted of a semi-closed polygonal structure formed of photographic panels depicting claustrophobic images of hospital corridors. Resembling a labyrinth, this piece addressed themes that have appeared throughout her work: interior spaces and physical boundaries. In this suggestive installation, Soto also skillfully brought her expressive imagery into harmony with the photographic support.

Although Soto can perhaps be considered a photographer, she doesn’t view photography as a documentary tool, but rather as a means to represent a complex vision of the world, and to suggest metaphors for sensations and desires. She foregrounds spatial concerns, but also uses photography in a highly personal fashion; for this reason, her work can be associated with that of other young Spanish artists whose art is primarily a vehicle for personal expression.

In her recent exhibition, Soto called attention to the contrast between appearance and reality by dramatically manipulating the gallery space. Once again, she displayed a polygonal structure that gave visible form to layers of meaning. She also mounted photographs on gigantic panels and leaned them against the walls in stacks throughout the five floors of the building, alternating the spaces in which they appeared with enormous darkened rooms. In navigating the exhibition, viewers also encountered masses of doors, entrances that were paradoxically impossible to traverse. In Soto’s installations, physical elements frequently take the form of impassable dividers. Here, one could envision other worlds only through the enigmatic content of the photographs, such as the images of a fence and sand that appeared in an untitled work depicting a Mediterranean beach. At times Soto’s work also suggests a spiritual element—for example, shots of skies over the roofs of houses in Barcelona or New York, which are reminiscent of Romantic landscapes by Caspar David Friedrich.

Pablo Llorca

Translated from the Spanish by Christian Viveros-Faunè.