I went out to eat coconut

Every attempt to escape takes me back to the same place. 

It seems as though Marco Montiel-Soto’s whole body of work is constructed over a complex registry of arguments manifesting as a recurrent fundament in each new proposal, oriented to “reconstruct memories and disperse stories, accumulated in the artist’s mind”. His inherent condition of explorer, tourist, collector, nomad, and immigrant operates as a vital category, with a flâneur vocation, to develop his artistic practice. The voyage, the itinerary, the transit, shift and constant mobility are, in consequence, the specific actions projected onto the map of a specific cartography. His undoubtedly corresponds to a disposition towards art assumed from the viewpoint of life. A self-referential challenge that alludes to the narrative of a protagonistic story, one that describes a reality and idealization from habitual experience and that ends up determining its own circumstances. As a world trotter, he has traveled innumerably ever since in 2002 he moved from his birthplace of Maracaibo to establish himself in Berlin. He has journeyed through urban and rural Europe, Latin America and Morocco, admitting he is the “passenger of a voyage without a fixed route or unattachment rituals”. The statement of “Salí a comer coco” is the transmutation of an old sign found in Comercial Belloso C.A., -a family business where he used to work as a teenager-, describes a jovial local expression and, at the same time, carves out in bold script letters the metaphorical image of the casual surrender of one way of life to build another; that which includes exile and incessant movement assumed as a destiny.

As a multidisciplinary artist, there coexist in his work a diversity of audio and visual strategies used with great economy of mediums and techniques. The present exhibition groups a body of work that can be split into three different compounds. In the central installation, “Strudel between contradiction y confusion” (strudel/whirlwind), we are faced with an oval-shaped board over which the artist, from his position as a sensible traveller, has displayed a collection of photographies, images from books, postcards, notes, and objects, gathered and archived during his continuous voyages. The impression of apparent randomness unchains an imprecise perception, provoked by the constant mobility that is established between two cities, two different worlds with some stories in common, Berlin, current studio-house and Maracaibo, his first home. This sort of personal Atlas establishes a cartography of memory in which the artist integrates easily foreign stories with his own; must be understood as a binnacle, a container for fleeting itineraries that operates from physical and emotional realities, and from imminent social or cultural affairs. A traveler’s journal that submerges us in a whirlwind of memories, where reality is fused with fiction, suspended in non-chronological time, to materialize a subjective archive and, thus, fragmented and selective with memories and images; in this way, he constructs an archaeology of portable memories, narrating the continuous trajectory between two geographies. This unending movement sets Montiel-Soto as a Semionaut, a category first proposed by French critic Nicolas Bourriaud in his book Radicante, where he describes the abiding artist as a “creator of pathways in a landscape filled with symbols”. In a way, the spectator -now also an explorer- experiments the proposed trajectory. Through small speakers they can discover a paused narration of diverse compositions or soundscapes that guide the journey with a personal narrative that constantly shifts languages -using Spanish, English, and German-, reaffirming the continuum to which language and memory are submitted.

The practice that overlaps collective and individual storylines hailing from diverse cultures, inevitably demands us to rethink the dilemma of personal identity, fracturing the essence of the identity paradigm. This typological and genealogical confusion promotes the possibility of a poetry diversified to global reach, adapted to the signs of our times. In the center of the whirlwind we can identify the presence of a small Moebius tape over which the following text is written: Ich gehe nie, komme immer zurück (I don’t go, I always come back), an aphorism that describes the spiral current and fundaments the notion of mobility as an abstraction that, in fact, sustains and connects his whole proposal. This object, as a “non-orienting” entity, indicates a topology that defines the concepts of convergence, connectivity, and continuity. A powerful metaphor for eternal return.

Words cannot escape a political or ideological posture because with them we announce our identities and faiths. Naming is decisive, it is the action that gives meaning and content to things and feelings. Montiel-Soto utilizes words from subjectivity to interact with others. In the works containing mechanographic texts, words appear gradually in a monitor as a visual essay to make sense. In the video, El tiempo pasa (Time passes) from 2011, days overlap. Individual ideas, lucubrations and improvised phrases, activated by the keyboard of his old typewriter, are transcribed over rolled paper threads. In them the narrative structure insists in the figure of continuous voyage, in the territorial voyage and the notion of temporality:  All you need is time. Equally, the sequence of images of the second video, Esto es un loop de lo mismo (This is a loop of the same) from 2014, is perceived as a more of an emotional representation describing a perpetual round-trip itinerary in which we will never know if the traveller goes or returns.

Under the same vein, the photographic series I’m writing in the middle of the night alternates –in the three chosen languages– a group of phrases and aphorisms to describe the emotions and experiences accumulated from an already lived past and the hope of coming “back to the future:”. And not without a certain melancholy, the work –made out of words– reaches a conscious composition. The text is now the image of an object. The strips of rolled paper recover their shape and are placed on the shot as small, fragile monuments of identity. Some are cylindrical, others resound in the labyrinth and some others perpetuate the inevitable return process through their symbolic representation. We can conclude that the diverse work of Marco Montiel-Soto –which spans through experimental video, installations, photography, slide dissections, intervened found objects, soundscapes, and texts– finds its unity in the idea that language is a crossing of social operations and individual narratives. Because we always tend to ask: Who is speaking? Who is writing? Who is reading? Is it the author or the reader?

The color photography series Mundo inflable desinflado (Inflatable deflated world) from 2009, completes the exhibition with a powerful metaphor for the planet we inhabit, an allegorical image to its geographical dispersion, the rupture fo its borders and the violent transformations, both physical and historical, that announced in calculated foregrounds, “a world in the process of asphyxia”. The different facets of the inflatable globe, emptied and tortured by the artist, far from idealizing the image of Planet Earth, suggests a representation of the tensions and resistance to which it is subdued to, paradoxically, attain a new equilibrium of exchange.

Ruth Auerbach, 2014