Montserrat Duran Muntadas, Mes Beaux Enfants et Autres Anomalies
Centre d’exposition Lethbridge
January 28 – March 21 2021
By Vania Djelani
Diagnosed with a uterine malformation in early adolescence, Montserrat Duran Muntadas’ solo Exhibition Mes beaux enfants et autres anomalies addresses a seamless blend between fragility and comfort through her material conscious practice. As a way of coping with a condition that causes infertility, Muntadas begins to negotiate concepts of femininity and motherhood. In displaying her own intimate experience within a public setting, the show aims to normalize conversation between the two terms that are often expected to be mutually exclusive in our society.
Following a series of wall hangings, visitors are faced with a rusted crib located in a sectioned-off area in the gallery. In exposing an empty frame with the mattress spring made entirely out of blown glass, the display embodies a material tension. Glistening in the dimly lit room and seen with an ultrasound projected on the wall, the heaviness of the installation is heightened through the apparent brittleness of each interlacing glass piece. There is an anxiousness inhabited by both works as it materializes the anticipation of a new life. In exposing the fragile stages of development, the significance of the crib is strengthened through the apparent absence that allows the structure to hold itself up. The installation acts as a painfully beautiful reminder of the gentle nature of life.
The rest of the exhibition leads to an array of blown glass sculptures embedded with multiple textiles. In making organic shapes with elements that extend, Muntadas’ pieces are reminiscent of cells and microorganisms. While anomalies are commonly associated with irregularity and error, the deliberateness of her installation demands the space for her condition to exist unapologetically. Her use of lush fabrics and vibrant colours that are incorporated within the glass adds sweetness to the internal landscape of struggle. The play between the ornaments mounted on the walls, cushion-like forms on pedestals, and bubbly orbs hanging from the ceiling transforms the sombre topic into an enlightening environment. The smoothness of the glass and the softness of the textiles alludes to a weightlessness that is no longer burdened by loss. As a coping mechanism created to take over and inhabit a place, Muntadas’ anomalies are uplifted.
Displayed at the Centre d’exposition Lethbridge in Saint Laurent, Québec, the gallery’s further position within the Library du Boisé adds to the transformative aspect of her show. As many of the visitors happen to be students and families passing by, this specific location enables the opportunity for conversation and liveliness that Muntadas intended. As an attempt in addressing the resilience of life, Muntadas creates these intricate, gut-wrenching, and humorous pieces. The exhibition invites us to engage with her experience, play within her installation, and incorporate art and healing in our daily lives.