I PLUS 1 EQUALS 1
According to my mother I was not visible when she was pregnant because I came in January and her heavy coat hid her stomach and my presence. One story is,"Everyone was shocked when you were born, Linda" and after years of research into reasons why I do performance, I've decided that this uterine story might be ONE(not the only) of the plausible reasons why I have always felt a need to "shock" myself and audiences with my art.(Sorry for the implication , Mom!) We are encoded at conception and have picked up attitudes and tendecies while in the womb. Behavioral scientists are realizing that and as a result, a new-agish training course is offered to parents-to-be which prepares the whiz kid of tomorrow by sending them to pre, pre, pre nursery school, The School of the Womb.(Did I make this up?)In the class the parents are encouraged to read books to the foetus through the mother's mouth, make sounds so sounds at birth won't be startling and you can imagine other permutations. Having been born before all of that, much of my work is about mending the past. But on the other hand, early conditioning and deprivation has produced some pretty outrageous later manifestations, gestures and actions. The way that I read it is that since I was somewhat "invisible" in utero, I carried over the need to be seen into my life and later made an art of it? Does this make sense? With all due respect to my parents, I would like to illustrate how the theme of invisibility/disappearance/transcendence was first acted out in my life and then, once I realized that I might as well make a career out of this propensity for the mysterious, I will illustrate how I transferred the gift into a money making vocation.(OK so it isn't much, performance doesn't pay as we all know.)
FOUR WAYS I LEARNED TO LEAVE THE BODY IN MY DAILY LIFE
1.As an infant I was allergic to cow milk formula and threw it up. My mother reports,"It used to look like cottage cheese coming out of your mouth."
EXAMPLE OF OBJECTS LEAVING THE BODY.
2.When 7 years old, I threw up breakfast all over my parents new wallpaper, every morning before school, and the reason was because kids were stepping on my coat in the cloakroom and I couldn't communicate this to anybody. Once I told the reason to my parents,and was given a private coathanger, I never threw up again.
EXAMPLE OF OBJECT LEAVING THE BODY.
3.When 21, while in the convent, I became anorexic and left weighing almost half my weight. Was I solving the riddle of physical transcendence but using drastic methods?
EXAMPLE OF EXPERIMENTING WITH TRANSCENDENCE?
4.When 28, I was in a rollover car accident. I remember returning (astrally???) to my shocked body and feeling a re-entry.
EXAMPLE OF LEAVING THE BODY AND RETURNING.
ART, A PLACE WHERE I PRACTICED DISAPPEARANCE WITH SELF-DESIGNED SEMBLANCES OF SAFETY
The above "life" examples are pre-performance ways that I solved things and asked questions. As a trained sculptor I later made objects that could appear and disappear using clay, wood, stone, metal and stuff. Eventually I collaged early childhood memores and impressions humorously, and aesthetically and called the actions performance, getting rid of the "stuff" in my work. Animals became walk-ins for me, specifically chickens in the following configuations:
1. ANIMAL AS SELF
2.SELF AS ANIMAL/SAINT
3.SELF AS OTHER
4.SELF AS ONE
1.ANIMAL AS SELF:CHICKENS, 1969. I presented chickens in cages for my MFA show and saw them as a metaphor for me, hoping they would illustrate my expertise with the concept of art but also be a humorous fill-in.
2.SELF AS ANIMAL/SAINT: LYING,SITTING,DANCING AS CHICKEN WOMAN 1971-76
By becoming the chicken I could also be the nun/saint in disguise. By doing performance actions on the street, I was drawing to myself attention that I could not give myself and yet learning from audeinces how to eventually be with ME. The endurances were short, usually 3 hours, but were training me publically. And because I had strong internal messages to feel comfortable in poetic "disappearance", I could easily become anyone or anything, even a saint? A chicken?
3.SELF AS OTHER: 7 CHARACTERS:
By 1975, I had formalized and made the gift of being able to get out of my own way, a bit more sophisticated and with the help of southern California and it's invitation to dramatize, I resurrected in myself 7 personae, and found that I could easily act as them, perfect them, speak as them and this was much more fun and easier than being me! By then I was beginning to ask, Who is the real Linda Montano?
4:SELF AS ONE: ART/LIFE, ONE YEAR PERFORMANCE.
Tehching Hsieh's art is extremely rigorous. With his performances he keeps himself focused, in danger, responsible and honorable. I joined him in his rope piece and the intensity of being tied to him with an 8 foot rope, not touching and always in the same room drove me into three directions:
A.Into the darkness of rage and emotion that I am still in the proces of sorting out with traditional/professional therapies.
B.Wholeheartedly into the present moment because training in dangerous actions , cultivates a mind of present centerdness.
C.Into an altered state of union with both him and everything a transcendence and indivisibility that verged on the divine.
5. SELF:7 YEARS OF LIVING ART:
After being tied for a year, I knew that I needed to design my own long term project that would teach me about the possibility of art being life and life, art. Because by insuring myself that I am "in art" at all times for 7 years and that the entire universe is my studio, I have lifted the pressure to create since every minute is framed and being used creatively. Included in the receipe that I have written for these 7 years, is an invitation for 7 well known women to "guide" me, inspire me, take care of me, teach me.... so for example in year one, Joan of Arc was my guide, year two, Theresa of Avila etc. This ability to be suggestibly flexible is again a trait that has a deep-seated history in my love of invisibilty, shape-shifting and transcendence.
We come from the invisible and return to the invisible. While alive, to experience that condition of nothingness seems an appropriate dress-rehearsal for the appearance of Sister Death's visit and invitation to leave the body.
Meanwhile, I practice as art.
Update:I continued 7 YEARS OF LIVING ART another 7 years and it was titled ANOTHER 7 YEARS OF LIVING ART. And then, after that, ANOTHER 21 YEARS OF LIVING ART