Linda Montano

Linda Montano

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Linda Mary Montano is a central figure in contemporary performance art
Performance art
In art, performance art is a performance presented to an audience, traditionally interdisciplinary. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated; spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned with or without audience participation. The performance can be live or...

. She was raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic household, partly Irish and partly Italian, that was surrounded by artistic activity. Both her parents played in an orchestra but Linda's fascination with Catholic ritual and desire to do humanitarian service led her to join the novitiate of the Maryknoll Sisters
Maryknoll Sisters
The Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, or simply Maryknoll Sisters, are a group of Roman Catholic women religious founded in the Village of Ossining, Westchester County, New York, in 1912, six months after the 1911 creation of the Maryknoll community of missionary brothers and fathers...

 after one year studying at the College of New Rochelle. After two years with the order, however, Montano was suffering from severe anorexia
Anorexia nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive fear of gaining weight. Although commonly called "anorexia", that term on its own denotes any symptomatic loss of appetite and is not strictly accurate...

, weighing only 80 pounds (36.3 kg), and she left the order to return to her former college, from which she graduated in 1965 as a sculptor.

During the rest of the 1960s, Linda continued to study and began performing, and by 1971 she was devoting herself exclusively to performance art. Around this time she married the photographer Mitchell Payne. During this period, Montano drifted away from the Catholic Church, but despite this loss of faith, Montano was consistently to acknowledge the influence of her strict Catholic upbringing on her work - for instance in how the discipline of convent life and her family's loyal work-ethic made her able to carry out extremely disciplined performances in her later career. Montano's first major performance, Chicken Woman (1972) was based on her MFA sculpture show at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. There she exhibited nine live chickens in three 8 feet (2.4 m) by 16 feet (4.9 m) minimalist chicken wire cages on the roof of the art building. It was titled "The Chicken Show" from 1969.

Linda had moved to San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

 1970 with her husband, and it was there that she established herself with performances like "Handcuff" (1973 with Tom Marioni) where she was physically tied to other artists, and "Three Day Blindfold" (1974), where she lived for three days blindfolded and had to find her way around. The death of her husband led to further exploration of art as a healing modality ("Mitchells' Death", 1978) and she continued her art-theology dialogue by living in a Zen monastery for three years and to Ananda Ashram in the 1980s where she studied with Dr. Ramamurti Mishra for over 30 years. His influence and appreciation of her vision encouraged both her art and life. Upon meeting Taiwanese performance artist Tehching Hsieh, they performed a collaboration whereby the two artists were bound to each other by a length of rope 24 hours a day for a whole year (from July 4, 1983 to July 3, 1984).

In the following seven years Montano did another ambitious project titled "Seven Years of Living Art", in which she lived in her home in Kingston wearing strictly monochromatic clothing, spent a portion of every day in a coloured room, and listened to a designated tone, all of which corresponded to the energetic qualities of a specific chakra
Chakra is a concept originating in Hindu texts, featured in tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning" .Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices...

. She changed colour every year, and after the project was finished followed it up with "Another Seven Years of Living Art", in part to memorialise her mother, Mildred Montano, who died in 1988 of colon cancer. This time she did not use the colours, but aimed to focus on the same chakras. From 1998, Montano has given cycles to other artists, hoping to give three cycle to three arts each dating up to 2019. After this, Montano focused upon freelance teaching of performance art, caring for Henry Montano (her increasingly ill father) and counseling people again practicing "Art/Life Counseling", a technique she used for seven years at The New Museum where curator Marcia Tucker had built a private room and allowed Montano to counsel people once a month in the window installation which was painted the same color that Montano wore for that year. At that time (1984–1991) Montano used tarot
Divinatory, esoteric and occult tarot
Tarot reading revolves around the belief that the cards can be used to gain insight into the past, current and possible future situations of the subject , i.e. cartomancy. Some believe they are guided by a spiritual force, while others believe the cards help them tap into a collective unconscious...

, palm and psychic reading
Psychic reading
A psychic reading is a specific attempt to discern information with clairvoyance and the resulting statements made during such an attempt. The term is commonly associated with paranormal-based consultation given for a fee in such settings as over the phone, in a home, or at psychic fairs...

s as tools of discovery as well as attentive listening so that she could respond to the questions of her clients and she intended to find the most creative way to respond to their problems and difficulties. (Currently Montano still does "Art/Life/Laugher Counseling" but without the assistance of tarot, palm and psychic readings because they are forbidden by her current practice of Catholicism).

The influence of her father led Montano to return to Catholicism and ultimately to Church attendance, and since 2005 she has taken gathered prayer requests to more than ten Catholic pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 sites throughout the world. Montano also meets with others in Catholic Churches for 3 hours silent retreats, re-seeing the concept of endurance from new Catholic-eyes. Since returning to Catholicism, Montano has made numerous videos exploring the faith, including Father Lebar
James J. LeBar
James J. LeBar was a Roman Catholic priest who was the chief exorcist of the Archdiocese of New York in the United States.- Early career :...

: Catholic Priest and Exorcist
; Saint Teresa Of Avila By Linda Mary Montano, and currently Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa , born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu , was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950...

 of Calcutta
. She also performs three-hour endurances, lip-syncing as Paul McMahon and Bob Dylan.

Her work investigates the relationship between art and life through intricate, life-altering ceremonies, some of which last for seven or more years. She is interested in the way artistic ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

, often staged as individual interactions or collaborative workshops, can be used to alter and enhance a person's life and to create the opportunity for focus on spiritual energy states, silence and the cessation of art/life boundaries.


  • "Characters: Learning to Talk: (1978) 45 min
  • "Mitchell's Death" (1978) 22 min
  • "Primal Scenes" (1980) 11 min
  • "Anorexia Nervosa" (1981) 60 min
  • "On Death and Dying" (1982) 22 min
  • "Sharada, Wife of Ramakrishna" (with Andy Cockrum and Chris Erlon) (1995) 23 min
  • "Seven Spiritual Lives of Linda M. Montano" (with Andy Cockrum and Chris Erlon) (1996) 13 min
  • "Seven Stages of Intoxication" (with Andy Cockrum and Chris Erlon) (1996) 34 min
  • Father Lebar: Catholic Priest and Excorcist (2008)
  • Saint Teresa Of Avila By Linda Mary Montano
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta


  • Tehching Hsieh
    Tehching Hsieh
    Tehching Hsieh is a noted New York City-based performance artist; he has been called a “master” by fellow performance artist, Marina Abramović.-Early life:...

     (collaborated on Art/Life One Year Performance, 1983–1984)
  • Rachel Martin
    Rachel Martin
    Rachel Martin Rachel Martin Rachel Martin (Dee-Deborah Rachel Martin, formerly known as Rachel Martin-Hinshaw, born 14 December 1954 in Yuba City, California is an American performance artist, draftsman, painter, printmaker, musician and writer based in Austin, Texas.-Education:...

  • Annie Sprinkle
    Annie Sprinkle
    Annie M. Sprinkle is an American former prostitute, stripper, pornographic actress, cable television host, porn magazine editor, writer and sex film producer...

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