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ENDURANCE THEN AND NOW: 1998, LAST PRESENTATION AT UT AUSTIN

ENDURANCE THEN AND NOW: 1998, LAST PRESENTATION AT UT AUSTIN





ENDURANCE:THEN AND NOW(FINAL VERSION)


 This presentation/paper is not only about my work; it is also designed to include you the listener/reader because I will be asking you endurance questions throughout. For example: What event in your life challenged you to endure? Take a minute and review the event. Where are you now with this event?
 Are you in the waiting stage, feeling the emotions?(Pause)
 Or are you in the anger stage, confronting the event? (Pause)
Or have you transformed the event, accepted it, made art with or about it?
 Wherever you are, the non-defined feeling stage, the anger stage or the transforming stage, is where you are and the place you need to be.
ENDURANCE :
 
DEAR LINDA,
STOP LINDA, STOP ENDURING! STOP SUFFERING. STOP BEING A VICTIM AND MARTYR AND GOOD CATHOLIC SAINT. STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY. YOU LOOK LIKE A MASOCHIST! AT 73 YOU ARE STILL PUTTING CATHEDRAS UP YOUR NOSE AND OUT YOUR MOUTH. UCK, UCK, DISGUSTING! AND THE ACCUPUNCTURE NEEDLES, YOU ARE STILL DOING THAT? DISGUSTING!
AND THE SLAPPING AND TAPPING! YOU SAY IT’S FOR HEALTH ? YOU ARE VERY HEALTHY AND DONT NEED TO PROVE IT. BUT MAYBE YOU ARENT HEALTHY, RIGHT?
IF YOU PROMISE TO GO AND SIT IN YOUR TIME-OUT CHAIR, I WILL PROCEED WITH THIS FILM AND TELL MY STORY OF ENDURANCE ART OF THE 60’S, 70’S AND 80’S.
GOODBYE OH SAINT OF SUFFERING, OH SUFFERING ADDICT. 
GOODBYE,
LOVE,
LINDA

 NOTE: The week before Christmas, I sat by my father’s bed, 24 hours a day for 6 days and nights , in an upstate NY hospital, as he recovered from disc surgery. I listened as he hallucinated from the pain killers and observed visually the woman down the hall strapped to her chair, across from the nurses’ station, sounding like the female comedians from the british TV sitcom, Absolutely Fabulous.
 Barbara was her name and she was raging, remembering past injustices from childhood, calling to God (This is not the only reason to be nice to people…they never forget any unkindness on a cellular level.) I was the observer, watching it all, choosing to be there. Who was waiting in this scenario? Who was enduring? Was it art or just a case of life waiting to be magically changed into art?

ENDURANCE:
 I have always been interested in enduring. As a young Catholic girl, I knelt before the bloody, gory, Crucifix in our upstate NY church and I waited, endured the discomfort that comes from kneeling, endured the isolation that comes from choosing church over play and “fun”, endured the possibility that I might not be good enough or saintly enough to go to heaven or be like Jesus. I was definately linked to suffering , penance and the guilt fast track at a young age.
To do that, I remember how nuns would talk about Christ and how he endured the suffering of carrying the cross, how he fell down, how he was nailed to the cross,and died miserably, forgiving everyone. His endurance etched itself into my belief system and when I was seven years old, I wanted to be a saint and I thought I had to suffer just like Jesus. That became the plot and story line for my entire life quest.
To do that:
At twenty I entered a convent,”enduring ” two years as a Catholic nun, living in silence those two years except for one hour a day when we all talked together in recreation. I loved the community and dedication to a higher good and absolutely pure goal, but I left anorexic, having lost nearly 50 pounds in six months, high as a kite on endorphins . Holy anorexia? Delusions? Endurance gone amuck?
When I was introduced to art soon after, I immediately found a way to transfer religious fervor and my prediliction for penance and suffering into my work, first as sculpture and then as performance art.

For example, I sat for hours, lay down for hours, danced for hours, in public, asking audiences to watch me endure, give me the attention I demanded, witness my long-term commitment. And in so doing, I felt more alive as I soaked in their curiosity. It was as if I couldn’t exist without them. Their presence was like a bath of recognition and approval and I wanted them to delight in my actions. Without the other’s gaze, I didn’t feel at all, so I learned more intricate ways to raise my own energy and get others to view me doing unspeakable acts of courage and then there would be this synergistic marriage of static electricity going on. They were in this web of my mysteries as viewer and manipulated into the role of voyeur, mid-wife/husband  to my happiness and co-creator of my art.
Some visual images from that time:
1. Lying three hours in a bed surrounded by 12 paper mache chickens, dressed as a saint….enduring.
2. Sitting as a saint , in 9 places in Rochester, three hours each place, holding a home-made chicken sculpture….enduring.
3. Walking on a treadmill for three hours going uphill, telling my life story…enduring.
4. Lying in view three hours with accupuncture needles in my conception vessel…..enduring.
5. Standing outside ringing a bell as a Salvation Army bell ringer….enduring.
6. Living 3 days handcuffed to Tom Marioni….enduring.
7. Living blindfolded for a week, preparing for old age and potential blindness…. enduring.
8. Living in a gallery room as five different people, one a day…enduring.
9. Studying the martial arts so as to channell rage into good action…enduring.
10. Mourning the murder of my ex-husband for two years as art….enduring.
11. Singing a song for three hours to my husband after his death….enduring.
12. Camping out in many galleries, museums and art spaces, using everyday life as art….enduring.
13. Going to the New Museum once a month for seven years, offering  Art/Life Counseling…enduring.
14. Living for a year tied by a rope to Tehching Hsieh in his ONE YEAR PERFORMANCE..enduring.
15. Living for 14 years while wearing  seven differnt colors to honor the chakras and sacraments…enduring.

PAUSE
Now take sometime and imagine your own performance..Create an action in your imagination that would mirror one of your life issues and see yourself enduring.

Certainly there is a psychological and freudian view that can be seen in my work but let’s also suppose that the work is a very intuitive shamanic and ritualistic way that I invented to lead myself into altered states of consciousness while bringing the viewer along with me on this interior and mysterious journey?
Possibly there are many ways of viewing my intentions and I believe that sometimes there is a thin line between neurotic narcissism and tantric, shamanic soul travel.
Like Catherine of Siena,and many other Catholic saints and mystics, I was enamoured of endurance so I could tough it out, prepare myself for the hard knocks of life, so I could fight the good fight, bite the bullet, so I could keep it up, go the whole nine yards, get the job done and give my all.(For me?For God? That took a long time to decipher.)

Once I learned of Hindu yogis and their methods of achieving stillness ,concentration, equanimity and inner silence, I felt in the company of kindered spirits and brother-sister travellers.
 
Watch this Tibetan nun, lost/found in trance, endure rigorous/repetitive mantras, visualizations, penances, charnel ground watchings, all meant to make her impervious to Himalayan cold, pain, the mind and illusions of the relative world.
These practictioners are some of my guides, helpers, teachers mentors and inspirations on my path.

PAUSE
Who is your helper? See this person. Thank them. Vow to become a helper to someone else in the future.

We have lookedat my background. Let’s now look at some universal reasons why we all endure. Endurance is built into our system because under this skin is a galaxy of networks, a mysterious world of muscles, bones, veins, and organs which endure our turbulent emotional states, endure our tortured thoughts, endure our various and punitive diets, endure the torture of climate changes and home-uprootings, endure our lovelessness, endure our fertile negative imaginings and paranoias, endure our lovellessness, endure our tortured memories and traumatic secrets, endure our disrespect for authorities and bitterness toward everyone’s good intention .

PAUSE
See your body in great detail. Clear it of all past endurances that hurt.

We artists love to create solutions to all of the above and in the late 60’s there came into the art stream a group of creators who made Body Art. Many of us used endurance as a primary material for our work. Some of the reasons might be:

1. That endurance was a reaction against the linearity and dogmatism of minimalart.
2. That endurance artists were interested in leaving the world of buying and selling art,making our work for each other, for ourselves, not for slick documents, mindless magazines, judging audiences or uncaring strangers.
3. That artists publically used the drugs of the day; marijuana, hashish, lsd, and peyote….drugs which allowed them to hang out , endure for long periods of time in trance and altered states, as art.
4. That the womens’ movement and civil rights movements inspired artists to experiment with issues of sensitivity training and consciousness-raising, as art.
5. That artists of the 60’s formed deep bonds with both eastern spiritual teachers and with American Indian elders who helped us see and feel new ways of honoring and appreciating our bodies and the earth. These wise teachers taught us self-initiatory and risk-taking rituals which could be used to mark important passages. They introduced us to death-defying actions, risk-taking attitudes and important maturity retreats. Later, once we learned from them, we translated the teachings into our performances. Now reality tv’s souless translations of our experiments mirror our work but miss the inner meaning.

Then there was the division around gender. How did women “endure”? And men?

Performance art became the art of choice for women artists in the 70’s since it offered a fluid, intuitive, healing, versatile, spontaneous and dynamic method akin to the physical waitings/endurings that women perform at childbirth and in the act/art of childraising.

Some women who endured:
1. Faith Wilding, transformed the pain of waiting into art.
2. Nancy Youdelman exaggerated our objectification as females.
3. The Womans Building and  Judy Chicago’s group performed rites of healing and consciousness raising as art.
4. Carolee Schneemann made visceral and liberated the blood ritual women wait for, endure and transform each month.
5. Hannah Wilke satirized rites of scarification using bubble gum vaginas as metaphor and symbol.
6. Eleanor Antin endured a diet as art, photographing her body in time and sequence.
 7. Mierle Ukeles shook the hand of every NYC garbage collector, raising the status of female/male homemaker to the level of fine art.
 8. Annie Sprinkle endured audiences examining her cervix.
 9. Karen Finley raged into the night.
 10 Suzanne Lacy had a Hollywood makeover, simulating old age and  preparing herself for the time that will come thus practicing solidarity with theis forgotten population
All of these women used time and material in new ways and courageously forged ahead of the tired  painting  and sculpture of the 70’s.

Men also played with time and initiated themselves via endurance but somewhat differently.  Do they wait as women do? Do men have that nine months gestational frequency encoded into their cells?

1. Joseph Beuys waited in a NY gallery in a room with a coyote while  wrapped in felt, echoing the way he was wrapped when shot down in the Crimea and was found by natives who smothered him in fat and wrapped him in felt, thus saving his life.
2. Tehching Hsieh deprived himself intensely.One of his one year waits was in a room-cell without TV, without talking, without a toilet. Then another year, punching a time clock every hour on the hour. Yet another year living on the streets of NYC , never going inside. SUPREME WAITING.
4. Chris Burden,  crucified , was nailed to a VW bug and waited, hurting.
5.Stelarc  was hung in imitation of  American Indian dancers who attach objects to their flesh and move until the flesh rips.
6. Terry Fox lay, tied to the elements, communicating a recognition of life, using hospitals images remembered from his cancer treatments.
7. Richard Long walked as art in Scotland, enduring a relationship with nature and time by creating patterns on the earth via natural actions.
8. Vito Acconci endured the pain of hair removal, questioning gender, body, male-female identity.
9. Stelarc endured in preparation for bionic, intelligent microchipped robotic uniformity.
10.Tom Marioni drinks beer with his friends every Wednesday evening as life-art .

And not to confuse the issue,what about couples who used the genre of body art as a metaphor ? As a fill in for the longevity of relationships!
1. Alex and Alison Grey endured public silence and meditation in a cross of apples, death and light , as art.
 2. Marina Abromovic and Ulay used a single braid of their hair and twin physiques to mark time and co-dependence , as art.
3.  Barbara Smith taught the techniques of tantric sex by practicing long-held positions so that sex could be witnessed  in a gallery setting and could be experienced as a mutual energy exchange and not a performance contest.
4.  Linda Montano and Tehching Hsieh got roped into life tasks, holding jobs, traveling , never touching for a year, as art.

PAUSE
Can you imagine how you would initiate yourself into a life passage? Write it, sing it, perform it , keep it secret but by all means BE SAFE!!
 
And artists began addressing the invisibility of the internet, enduring without being present, preparing for the robots that we will someday be. There in an invisible internet community, travel, audience and applause are non-existent.
 
1. Linda Montano stands in for herself
2. Linda Montano sits in for herself at the New Museum.
 
My latest endurance ,(1998), is a 14 year Chakra event, inspired by my Guru, Shri Brahmananda Saraswati. In India, the land of magic, eroticism, excess color, delight, sensuality and spirituality there is an inner theology that posits that here are seven energy centers, symbolic magnets drawing intelligence and abundant energy into their centers. To activate the system a great yogi, Gopi Krishna sat breathing slowly and rhythmically, drawing his attention toward the crown of his head, contemplating an imaginary lotus in full bloom, radiating LIGHT.
 
CONCLUSION:
My father once told me when I was complaining about a life issue, I think it was insurance prices, He said to me, “Life is hard enough. Don’t make hard things harder.” And in his yearbook his legacy states, “Henry Montano is someone who makes difficult things seem easy.”
By practicing endurance, possibly we can prepare in a strong way for times when we need to be even stronger.
 
CONCLUSION:
 
DEAR LINDA,
IT’S TIME TO STOP! THAT’S ENOUGH. STOP ENDURING LIFE. STOP CREATING SUFFERING. STOP, STOP, STOP IT.
LIGHT IS ENOUGH.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU,
LOVE,
LINDA

 
This paper was presented 1998 at my last performance  at UT Austin Texas as a good-bye. Currently, text for film: ENDURANCE THEN AND NOW.