hide You are viewing an archived web page, collected at the request of New York University using Archive-It. This page was captured on 20:16:47 May 30, 2017, and is part of the Fales Library: Linda Montano collection. The information on this web page may be out of date. See All versions of this archived page. Loading media information

Friday, January 4, 2013




About 5 years ago, 2008, I was extremely incapacitated with cervical dystonia which twisted my body and at times reduced my posture to an almost head to knee position. http://youtu.be/lj9OlegCsBc

It was extremely exhausting and frustrating to be so handicapped and I was embarassed by the loss of my posture and looks and youth.

One day while experiencing this condition a voice came to me inside my head: " Linda, you look just like Mother Threresa."
Mother was bent, face lined with interior and exterior pain, plus she seemd serious and in suffering! That was me in a nutshell.

Having performed as many different fantasy and imagined people since 1975, I thought, why not be a living person, why not be Mother Teresa. Actually my Bob Dylan impersonation had preceeded
Mother so having had a real-person precedent I knew I could attempt the impossibe and try to resemble Mother Teresa.
Also, as a good Catholic girl, I was taught to never not use suffering as a vehicle for attentional/spiritual growth! Not for pity-party attention-getting!

The stage was set, wheels were in motion and I asked artist, Diane Teramana, to videotape me in her yard and video genius extrordinaire Tobe Carey, then made a film from Diane's footage.
In this now free you tube film, I walked slowly and reverently, carried a "child-doll", and looked holy and bent over. Check it out for yourself on the internet. http://youtu.be/cVPkiN-LYpA


My intention has never been irony or comedy but a borrowing of her persona to learn and practice a level of compassion and service that only she was ever capable of.
It is unimatatable/unmatchable and there will always be only one MOTHER TERESA.

But what worked is that by osmosis, I felt a spirit of "seva" (loving kindness and service to all) that I was able to then duplicate in small ways in my daily life.
Putting on her persona was like going to the Mother Teresa: School for the Selfish.

I appeared at a senior citizen retreat for Catholics as a premier. ( They had been on a week retreat and actually were so blissed out that they truly really thought I was her!)
Tobe and I had made a one hour compilation of Mother's life with images of her and stories by her. I "mimed" in front of the video and "blessed" each member of the senior citizen audience with water and my hands and a smile. This non-performance (I call it PRAYER everytime I appear as Mother Teresa) was extremely effective, not ironical, not comical, not a spoof, not a comment on performance art or me or nuns or anything but the SPIRIT OF BLESSING, THE SPIRIT OF HEALING, THE SPIRIT OF COMPASSION , in action. A reality show?

As a praticipant in this imitation, I was ejected from ego-mind, ego mode, ego hubris and felt/ecperienced exactly what those present experienced.
That is, I felt the ecstasy that comes from the suspension of disbelief and the ability to mystically cultivate an attitude of right brained unconditionally love, as life!
( Art had taken a back seat to the reality of felt compassion.)

I then brought this experience to a Catholic women's Rosary society, and some years later, to NYC where my "persona" gave Pauline Oliveros an award at Columbia University. Again all present
were in silence at the way I totally appromximated/duplicated Mother Teresa and what was interesting is that the usual jealousy, upsetness that can happen when one of us shines brighter than the others, was not there because Linda, the artist, was hidden inside the costume and no-one even assocaited me with the "appearance" once I was out of  costume!
  Mother came and when my costume was packed in my suitcase, Mother was gone. My hand was not shaken and that was good and ok.
I therby avoided the greedy-envy that comes from fame being afforded one special person and not everyone. I had hidden inside the costume and everyone loved Mother and didnt feel embittered by my excellence!
 A good foil when jealousy comes flying your way!

And then a public street-side entrance: When the Empire State Building was not given permission to be lit in blue and white for Mother's 100th birthday, (politics ) I was inwardly called to go to
NYC for 3 days and be there AS HER along with 4 women guardians/guards/policewoman performance artists who officially accompanied me and "protected" me and gave my presence credence. http://youtu.be/h0m25kyw33g
My gratitude to artist Mark Shaw for his incredible video document and for the fierce beauty of the four Guardians: Andrea Dominquez, Miss Toni Silver, Zhenesse Heinemann and Leah Aron.

Again this was not comedic theatre, not a joke, nothing to laugh at but an opportunity to participate in a suspension of belief and a chance for those walking by the ESB, to come up to "Mother"
for a word, a blessing, a hug, a hope. I was at the ESB for 3 days, 3 hours each day and the performance took on an attitude of endurance and reliable re-presence.
One or two fundamentalist "Catholics" commented, were displeased with me and said I was not doing the right thing in imitating this saint and I'm sure they meant I was sinning big time.
I was not! I was participating in a true compassion-fest!


My mentor and guide, Dr Aruna Mehta, had given me the sari which I altered by sewing blue cloth on it to look like a Missionary of Charity nun's habit. For years, Mrs. Mehta's teachings to me about serving and seva will be articulated and duplicated via this (performance), experience. She and her husband were dedicated to the reality and concept of "service" and my 19 years as their adopted daughter, prepared me for this practice of the art of service as art and life. http://youtu.be/mSnHvOWLRgE

Will I do it forever? Will it evolve into something else? Will the MOTHER TERESA nuns who gave me permission to "be" Mother, take away the permission some day? Will arrogance and fame set in and spoil the whole mix?
These questions I ask myself and because it is a "prayer", I resolve to stay tuned to the progress of this performace via everyday prayer so then I will know when to not be Mother whenever I hear the message to stop!
Then and only then, I will know when NOT to go to a site as her, I will know when I am not respecting her legacy and image and beauty. Then I cease and desist.
Mother Theresa, may I never, ever jeapordize the delicacy of this appearance with the vagaries of fame, fortune, hubris or pride.

Your student, Linda

No comments:

Post a Comment