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Friday, August 24, 2018



Dear Demie Kim,

For some months, a group of women artists met weekly to discuss feminist art issues and as part of our healing of past situations where we felt discouraged by the  media's disregard of women artists' participation in the art world, we were made aware of your article and so wrote this letter to you to request a response from you regarding your article titled The Performance Artist who Tied Himself to a Woman for a Year that was published by Artsy.com on December 19, 2017. As it happens, one of the women in our group is the woman who tied herself to Tehching Hsieh for a year - Linda Mary Montano. In reading this article we felt called to ask you some questions.

First, we would like to know how it happened that in the year 2018 a recent female graduate of a two year course study and recipient of a masters degree in art history from The Clark in cooperation with Williams College winds up titling her article The Performance Artist who Tied Himself to a Woman for a Year?  

We wonder if you hoped this blatant and controversial title might spark debate? It did. Lots of it on Facebook and at other venues, in text conversations and during sleepless nights! Maybe you considered the title a publicity stunt? Is it possible you proposed a different tile that was rejected by an editor? Please tell us.

As a cure, we have submitted some fill-in-the-blank possible solutions to The Performance Artist who Tied Himself to a Woman for a Year, and ask, a woman what?  " He tied himself to a…………"

(This list  of solutions has been added to Nina Isabelle's letter by Linda Mary Montano)

It has been suggested that the letter P could have been used...……... Woman Performance Artist.

Second: We understand that it would be impossible for you to know everything about everyone throughout all of art history and maybe that is why your title does not reflect Montano's "good art-history name?". However artist Jennifer Zackin suggests that as sisters, as me too survivors, as artists, as creators, as mothers, as daughters we must be more careful in the future and begin to think twice when we speak to/write about/think about not only other women, NOT ONLY OURSELVES, but about EVERYONE and EVERYTHING!  Times are fragile and so are we! So is everyone, everywhere. We found, even in our meeting together, that mistakes are made, apologies are given and hopefully received. 

Third: In the future we hope that, as an art historian and art writer, that not only you but ALL of us will take the time to look further into scenarios where gender and power imbalances are often hidden, and that we will work to write/talk/think about truth for the sake of justice and equality. Although it might be exciting and easy to regurgitate the patriarchal version of history, it can also be exciting to find new voices and speak up transparently and without gender bias.

Fourth: Do you think  that you can  correct this inaccuracy and give credit where credit is due? Would you be willing to revise your title? Include more references to Linda's work? Publish an explanation?

Thank you for your consideration and we wish you all the best with your career. Please know that this is a learning experience for all of us as we reach out for healing of the art-life past. 

We look forward to your response.


Nina Isabelle
With Linda Mary Montano & Jennifer Zackin

FOOTNOTE: It seems that the "old" title is gone and has been changed to The Performance Artist Who Went to Impossible Extremes. Perhaps someone noticed the fact that using the generic "woman" was not politically or art historically correct.
Dear Linda, Nina, and Jennifer:

Thank you for your extensive feedback regarding the original title of the Artsy article on Tehching Hsieh. As a media outlet, we try our best every day to make sure our headlines are both informative and engaging to our audiences. However, sometimes we do not get it right. In those cases, we always make sure to address incorrect or misleading information.

This headline is one such instance, and we were indeed very aware of valid criticisms and concerns surrounding it. That is why we made the decision to re-title the piece, as you mention, 'The Performance Artist Who Went to Impossible Extremes.' Linda Montano is also clearly identified in the piece as a fellow performance artist, and is named in the relevant image captions. 

These amendments were made back on May 14We certainly appreciate your insightful concerns; similar feedback was what prompted us to make those amendments at that time.

Thank you,


Scott Indriลกek
Deputy Editor
Artsy | New York

Thank you! Sorry for the delay here. I just wanted to clarify that Demie did indeed receive the original email, and other messages, and we have collectively been in conversation about that before my response. She is very much in the loop with the discussion and simply wanted to make sure we were responding in unison, to avoid any confusion. I's the responsibility of the senior editors on the team to oversee the headlining process, and to address any concerns, which is why I was the one to respond initially after discussing at length with Demie.

And of course it's no problem to post our response in conjunction with the original letter on your blog -- thank you for asking.

Glad we could clarify this to everyone's satisfaction. And please do keep in touch with any future projects, news, and so on! 

Scott Indrisek



"with all the stories , all the victims from many years ago,  with all the revelations coming to light from all over the world,  ireland, italy, u.s.a., everywhere,  maybe it would be easier to search out those catholic boys and girls who were not victims of sexual abuse by their priest"

gene loeb  shivananda



Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States are a series of lawsuits, criminal prosecutions, and scandals over sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy. The issue of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic  priests was first publicized in 1985 when a Louisiana priest pled guilty to 11 counts of molestation of boys. It was again brought to national attention when a number of books on the topic were published in the 1990s, and again in 2002 following a series of publications by the Boston Globe.
As it became clear that there was truth to many of the allegations and that there was a pattern of cover-ups in a number of large dioceses across the United States, the issue became a nationwide scandal, creating a crisis for the Catholic Church in the United States. Allegations in the United States also encouraged victims in other nations to come forward, rapidly creating a global crisis for the Church. Over many decades, priests and lay members of religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church had sexually abused children, principally boys, on such a large scale, that the accusations reached into the thousands. A major aggravating factor was the actions of Catholic bishops to keep these crimes secret and to reassign the accused to other parishes in positions where they had continued unsupervised contact with youth.

This "reflection " is my limited and paltry attempt to better understand and heal the revolting, repellent, repulsive, sickening, nauseating, nauseous, stomach-churning, stomach-turning, off putting, unpalatable, unappetizing, uninviting, unsavory, distasteful, foul, nasty, obnoxious, objectionable, displeasing, shocking, horrifying, scandalous, monstrous, unspeakable, shameless, shameful, vulgar, gross, vile, wicked, odious, humorless, abhorrent, loathsome, detestable, hateful, sickening, vomitous, yucky, icky, gross, sick-making, gut-churning, grotty, bogging, disgustful, contemptible, despicable, deplorable, abominable, execrable, unforgivable, unpardonable, inexcusable, intolerable, insupportable, horrid, ghastly, sick, godawful, beastly, disgusting, loathly, egregious Catholic Clergy sex abuse horror stories brought to the social media table by the smart and irate Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
Although we already had  doses of this bad news via and thanks to the untiring and brave truth-telling of the Boston Globe journalists back in the early 2000's, and abused victims were, and still are, being listened to and supported by Boston's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, a brave, untiring, lunch-forgoing, devoted, nurturing man who wisely feels and cares for truth and restorative justice for his clients once muzzled by the unthinkable; although all of that pioneering and important uncovering, we are in a major mega tizzy about Catholic clergy abuse this time. Why the call to arms?  Is it because  the 2018 upgraded abuse images seared into our nightmares and  fed us with stories and sex abuse true tales that called for more than just an incredibly moving and important and fabulous and earth shattering docu-movie: Spotlight. Now we/I am seeing handcuffs. Why? Mr. Shapiro publicly recounted tortures that are demonic in scope and gruesome in detail. Social media spilled a big load of beans. You might stop reading or run to the bathroom to regurgitate your avocado burrito if I were to list even one of them so I refer you to Google and you You Tube the monstrous rapes when you have more than a minute and have fasted for a day on bread and water. Then you can decide what you want to do about the life-ruining stories and betrayals inflicted on infants-to-adults by not ALL but some/many men-in-black wearing  Catholic clerical collars. 

"This and all of the other reports: the Church should be shut down, pending review of this epidemic. Short of that, priests should be prohibited from any contact, from verbal to physical, with parishioners under 21. Priests and nuns should be allowed and encouraged to marry, and homosexuality should be allowed and embraced by the Church. Priests and other Church officials should be subject to state and federal law, not Church law. These are minimums. Otherwise, you are giving license to a criminal sex cult." Steven 

Fundamentalism usually has a religious connotation that indicates unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs. However, fundamentalism has come to be applied to a tendency among certain groups—mainly, though not exclusively, in religion—that is characterized by a markedly strict literalism as it is applied to certain specific scriptures, dogmas, or ideologies, and a strong sense of the importance of maintaining ingroup and outgroup distinctions,  leading to an emphasis on purity and the desire to return to a previous ideal from which advocates believe members have strayed. Rejection of diversity of opinion as applied to these established "fundamentals" and their accepted interpretation within the group is often the result of this tendency.

Let's take a breath and think about something else for a minute. You got it, I said think and not feel. Let's think about brainwashing. Let's do this by asking, was I raised almost fundamentalist? If so, don't I have permission to overthink and not feel this Catholic mess?  Having attended 13 years of RC education, having lived for two more years as  a Roman Catholic nun/novice which adds up to 15 years of Catholic "Training", I was and still am fundamentally triggered into the  fix-it-mode of not only wanting a "solution" for this current mess but as any traumatized/restimulated/disgusted/ by this news survivor might do, I immediately flee to my overly analitically trained Jesuit-thinking left brain to avoid FEELING interior tremors and overwhelming  reactions as the DA's words hit the internet.....reactions and shouts to the empty room such as: " Call the exorcists!"  "Who does that?" "Who has the child wash his mouth out with Holy Water after giving the priest a blow job!!! "  "Call the police!!"  "Where are the handcuffs?" So here is my left brain reasoning and fix; one an ardent, over-trained and indoctrinated  fundamentalist might wager. 

"I didn't know that Confession is confidential, that explains so much! 
No wonder the abuse thrived so long! 

Established religion seems more and more evil to me.

It's about power, coercion, dominance, sexual perversion...

The shockwaves following this kind of trauma could sink a whole country...

It's good the evil is brought to light Finally!!!" Josepha Gutelius

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation (commonly called Penance, Reconciliation, or Confession) is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church (called sacred mysteries in the Eastern Catholic Churches), in which the faithful obtain absolution for the sins committed against God and neighbor and are reconciled with the community of the Church.[a] By this sacrament Christians believe they are freed from sins committed after Baptism.[1] The sacrament of Penance is considered the normal way to be absolved from mortal sin, by which one would otherwise possibly condemn oneself to Hell.

Can you imagine being 7 years old and every Saturday afternoon going to the local Catholic Church, making your faltering/fearful way into a wooden confessional designed by medieval monks meant to scare little girls? This architecturally uninviting place where one is supposed to lay down one's weary soul, really intimidates because the scent of hell lurks behind the grill where the priest sits, spying on sins that could have a moment before if unconfessed, have thrown this 7 year old into the pit of silence and eternal fire. So every Saturday I went into the confessional box, soft voicing sorrow that I misbehaved 4 times, soft-cry voicing that I was angry at  my sister six times and told a lie to my father once. Same scenario each week. Sometimes the lie would be about a sin that I lied about, like when I was older and kissed Paul in the playground, I would say I lied twice and the first would be that I didn't tell "Father H" that I committed a "SEX SIN!!!!!!!! These spoken wrongs would then be absolved and  a penance given like: " Say two Hail Mary's and make a good  Act of Contrition." Then maybe after I speed-chanted the Act of Contrition, watching my spit hit the grill between us, the priest would say, "Go in peace my child."  Maybe not. All I know is that I could see/taste and smell my bad breath and sometimes his.
In my haste to make sense of clergy abuse, I have latched onto the teat of Confession as the "cause" of the scandals. You find your cause, this is the best I can do, believe me. Person to person  Confession was born in Ireland, along with the "troubles," a long, long time ago but for some reason, I've forgotten why. It's probably about money or power or women?  Google it. 
So here is what I think happened. Men-Catholic priests in black with clerical collars would get hot and bothered and not have a way to deal with their erected, sexual sensibilities since masturbation was not allowed/ sex was not allowed and pleasure was a total no-no in this Church of: Suffering is Great. So the altar boy or little girl in the hospital with her tonsils just taken out  and lying semi drugged in her bed or the sweet young seminarian who smiled freely or the young 14 year old who was cleaning the rectory or the 5 sisters in one family, one 18 months old, were all fodder/food/easy prey. Let's stop for a moment and all vomit in unison?
So Father X would do his non-Chastity, non-Purity deed, go to confession, be forgiven and since over time his habit of perverse-perverted-persecuting pleasure got imbedded, he would do it again and again ON the kids, knowing that Father Y who was hearing his confession was ordinated NOT TO TELL ANYONE. That is how Confession works. No matter what is said, it stayed in the Vegas of the Confessional. That's called  Church Law or Canon Law or something like that versus Civil Law; the law that therapists and I suppose doctors use and follow. If their client says, "My ----------- raping me,"  the therapist has to call some legal authority, not sure which one. Is that Civil Law, the way it works?  Something like that. But in the church,  CONFESSION COVERS THE LAW AND HIDES THE  SIN  AND EVEN FORGIVES IT so when the creep dies, he can sit in a Starbucks in Heaven next to our favorite now deceased saint-like friend. Not fair.
So this is the game. The priest does the sexually-unthinkable, ruining a child's life, comes back to the rectory or does it in the rectory. Then he has a big meal, watches some TV and then remembers and says to himself, " Oh, I have to go to Confession." Notice I capitalize Confession. He knows he will be "forgiven" by Father X who then gets out of the confessional, goes to the other side, kneels down and confesses most likely his similar unchaste acts with pubescent/prepubescent boys and girls to the forgiven Father R who got out of the confessee side and goes to the confessor's place-seat in the middle. This goes on and on and on, year after year, decade after decade. Shhhhhh, it seldom makes it to the archive of silence kept by the Bishop since they keep hiding and keeping secret their raping  and they cover for each other and never report shit and then the Bishop changes their location so they can go and do the same at a Parish 10 hours away. Everybody smells it and the poor, silent congregation of battered sheep suck it all up and when they go to confession they hide the real words of truth and say "Bless me Father I have sinned. I have been angry 94948 times. " Loosely translated, "I want to murder the bastard priest who is abusing my daughter."
 It is all code, this Catholicism.
Oh, I almost forgot. There is another Catholic Confession Coverup that might explain why NOBODY knew that anything sexually torrid was happening to anybody for all these years. It has to do with the way Catholics bend the truth and reality to fit their game. It goes like this. Let's say Father E confesses to Father L but says: " I broke the 6th Commandment 68 times." In Catolicese that translates as: I groped a child/masturbated an altar boy/photographed a nude schoolgirl but  it is "covered" and DOESN'T HAVE TO BE SPELLED OUT if Father E says, "I broke the 6th Commandment" which actually says in the Bible, Thou shalt not commit adultery. The 6th covers the 985 other permutations of unapproved "sex" sins, not just  adultery. So if for the last 100 years, Catholic priests were confessing, "I broke the 6th Commandment," then maybe nobody knew anything???? Just wondering. Is confessing the 6th without particulars permissioned by Canon Law?  Catholicism often breeds tricksters and rule benders. 

"WE are the circle of grandmothers.
WE are ready to offer the healing balm of friendship and Our Lady and each other and prayer without priests and property.

We can help each other take the tape off our own mouths, and the mouths of our sisters and brother in pain. 

Let us create a garden together whose vines will crumble all of these patriarchal institutions. 

No priests. No property. No patriarchy. "  Perdita Finn

The encyclical  Veritatis Splendor also responds to the idea of the "fundamental option." In this way of thinking, a man's particular actions do not necessarily affect his ultimate salvation—what is important is his fundamental orientation towards or against God. The pope writes:
"There is no doubt that Christian moral teaching, even in its Biblical roots, acknowledges the specific importance of a fundamental choice which qualifies the moral life and engages freedom on a radical level before God. It is a question of the decision of faith, of the obedience of faith (cf. Rom 16:26) "by which man makes a total and free self-commitment to God, offering 'the full submission of intellect and will to God."

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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, established in 1989, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization support group of survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters in the United States. SNAP's mission is to protect those who are vulnerable to child sexual abuse, to heal those who have been wounded, and to prevent future abuse. It exposes predators and those who shield them, helps members share stories so they are empowered, and educates communities about the impact of abuse.

To conclude, I leave with a real, most likely true story that I read. It is written by a once victim now clergy abuse survivor and member of SNAP. It could be titled, How To Exterminate a Young Girl's Soul. It goes something like this.
 " I was 14 or 16 high school girl, groomed by a priest relative. After his mother died I was invited/placed in his home to clean/paint radiators/wash dishes. He fed me wine, played La Boheme on the record player as we sailed away in an atmosphere of heady/dreamy/drunken romance. He began fondling my non-breasts. I remember walking home that first day and I felt my SOUL leave my body and fly into the empty movie theatre as I passed by. Because there were already many layers of tape on my already silent mouth I said nothing to my also silent, priest-adoring parents and so his murder of my soul continued on and off for years resulting in intenser interior suffocations, more silence, more muzzling of my life force. It ended when we both almost drowned....drunk in the same bathtub. 
Once when we were in his car I remember surprising myself by asking, "Is this ok?" Or did I ask, "Is this wrong?" Or maybe "Are we doing something wrong?" How does a corpse speak I wonder now? But I did. His answer was two words.  "It is Fundamental Option." Or something like that but he definitely said the words: fundamental option. I said nothing, taping my heart tighter into my burning chest. It was too much for me, I had no idea what he meant and of course didn't ask because how do you ask "God" to explain Himself?  Years later, before Google, I looked  up fundamental option in a Catholic Catechism and saw that he had found an easy moral out, had screwed it all around so that he fixed the travesty in his mind. He forgave himself. Simply put, Fundamental Option translates: "I am good and perfect and powerful and loved by God and moral and sinless."  What about me? That was for him. I never felt any of that or had his ability to be  "good/perfect/loved" until one day, some 40 years later, I walked by that same movie theatre and there, lying propped up next to the entrance door,  was a vintage painting-cardboard-print of a young angel-looking-girl-child. It was a miracle. Truly a miracle. A generous miracle. My soul was returned. It was me" Kim

A true miracle would, by definition, be a non-natural phenomenon, leading many rational and scientific thinkers to dismiss them as physically impossible (that is, requiring violation of established laws of physics within their domain of validity) or impossible to confirm by their nature (because all possible physical mechanisms can never be ruled out).
 The story of a little boy standing nude on the priest's bed posed as if on a cross, being photographed by a priest pervert for and I think with his porn priest-buddies, is just too graphic, incendiary and rule changing. The fact that children were forced to wear gold "crosses marking their inclusion in the tribe is even more incendiary. Those sad crimes and others have hit the proverbial fan of Justice. But hear me well, Mother Justice will not be stopped. 

May all victim-survivors of Catholic Clergy abuse be healed.
May they feel peace.
May they be peace.
May they know the inner friendship of loving kindness before they leave this life.
May they breathe life into their heart.
 Gratitude to all friends for walking and talking me through this time.