Sin Título, Huella nº 42 (Untitled, Print 42), 2004
|75 x 150 cm|
“Landscape is not a physical place, but a series of ideas, sensations and feelings created from the place. (…) The idea of landscape is not so much in the object as in the gaze. It is not what is before us but what we see”. That phrase by Javier Maderuelo, quoted by Neus Miró in the text for the catalogue published by CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, on the occasion of the exhibition Compostela in which Montserrat Soto took part with the series to which the four photographs we are concerned with belong, sums up to perfection the soul of images where what we see is the representation of an idea as a starting point for the creation of a discourse based on the feeling that emanates from the spectator’s gaze.
Grouped under the title Huellas and composed of images taken in Scotland and Galicia, the first thing that strikes us is the lucid reflection they propose on the human race and emotions. A reflection which, based on a subjective representation of the natural world and an exploration of the contrast between the wild and the constructed, shows the battle fought between man and nature to strike a balance between the natural and the artificial.
Belonging to that side of Soto’s production that focuses on the evocation of feelings from an appeal to memory and experience, Huellas is an example of the tormented, fragile coexistence between man and nature. A recurrent theme in her work which, along the lines of what the artists of Romanticism hinted at through their idealised vision of landscape, is one of the pillars on which an investigation designed to explore the subject through its tracks, and therefore, its absent presence, rests.
Although each of these works was conceived so that, once they were installed as in a picture gallery, the spectator would be deafened by the shriek of the plants in their struggle to recover a ground threatened by the action of man, there is no doubt that each of them conceals a will to confront him with a reality as irreversible as his own human condition. However, rather than denouncing what in this artist’s eyes is a threat to the balance of the planet, what these images suggest is an awareness of a reality in the face of which we can act or not according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Committed since the beginning of her career to a discourse focused on absence, emptiness, silence and memory, Soto is attentive to the passage of time, to the transformation of space and the existence of man. That is why in her works we not only perceive the presence of some of those constants; they are what give them their full meaning.