December 25, 2013 · Print This Article
Linda Mary Montano, reproduced with permission, lindamontano.com
Since the mid-1960â€™s Linda Mary Montano has been steadily eroding the boundary between art and life through her pioneering work in performance, video and sculpture. From dealing with personal trauma, performing multiple identities, durational projects, feminist issues, and coming to grips with spiritual life, Montanoâ€™s influential work often involves aspects of ritual, humor, and healing properties. In 2013, Montano had a concentrated survey at SITE Santa Fe, Linda Mary Montano: Always Creative, in which she exhibited over forty years of work, including: Mitchellâ€™s Death (1977), Fourteen Years of Living Art (1984-98), and a new, two-part performance, Singing My Heart Outâ€¦Singing My Heart In for which she sang seven straight hours at both the opening and closing of the exhibition.
For your Christmas-day reading pleasure, Montano graciously lays out her thoughts on the holiday season, anxieties about aging, and bringing her work in video to an end.
Can you start us with a Christmas blessing?
We are bliss eternally. If we feel it, we experience joy; if we experience joy we experience ecstasy; if we experience ecstasy the next step is union.Â May we all beÂ happy in the way we need and be kind to ourselves also.
Were you good this year?
I was able toÂ travel into the dark this yearÂ and that’s a good thing.Â I made three tapes that plunged into the depths.Â My infancy:Â Mom Art (on my fear of learning too much about my childhood),Â Nurse!, Nurse!,Â (on my fear of “catching”Â dementia)Â and My Pope Dream: (onÂ my need to reform the Catholic Church).
Art is so kind. She lets us be afraid aesthetically!
All videos will be on YouTube in January 2014.
It was so good to look atÂ the dark but scary to see myself being so transgressive. IÂ shocked myself this year. The little girl is now in cahoots with an older Linda.
My next-to-almost-last video will beÂ Death in the Art/Life of Linda Mary Montano, 2014.
It is from a text I wrote for a slide lecture in 1996 and opens all of the death doors which then was radical thing to do. Now that the elephant of death is in the room, it’s no big deal.
You have been living by the Art=Life philosophy for decades. Youâ€™ve also gone back to the Catholic faith after having not practiced it for many years. So, when the holidays roll around, do you have a particular way of performing/living the season?
I play the typical neurotic yes/no games many others play. Gift? Who to? What?Â The shoulda, coulda woulda games. I also think I should watchÂ A Christmas Carol every year, and Iâ€™m glad when I do.
This year I am practicingÂ being anÂ infantÂ as a secret performance and this is helping me get into the atmosphere of no-mind, baby-mind, innocence.
Hotly debated topic: multi-color lights or white lights?
Inner lights. Let me share my Poland poem with you, so you know why. I was just there in November 2013 and “became light.”
Linda Mary Montano 2013â€¨Â â€¨Dedicated to my mother, Mildred Montano
Mom: “Linda, turn some lights off. This room is lit up like a Polish church!”â€¨Â â€¨
Bulleted buildings:Â CHECK
Booted marching:Â Â CHECK
Anne Frank attics:Â Â CHECK
Death provoking winters:Â CHECK
Five keyed entrances:Â CHECK
Historical litanies:Â CHECK
Embodies memories:Â CHECK
Hourly cappuccinos:Â Â CHECK
Gilded angels:Â Â CHECK
Whispered nightmares: CHECK
High pitched smiles:Â CHECK
Bundled grief:Â CHECK
Now my room-heart is lit up like a Polish church.
Recently you produced one of your last videos,Â Nurse! Nurse!, an incredibly moving work about aging, acceptance, caring and gratitude. Is this close to your personal situation?
At almost 72, the curtain between the world of being here and not being here gets thinner. While I’m stillÂ out of adult Depends,Â I decided to look atÂ my worst aging fears, as art, and I found it so refreshing to practice faux madness in this film. The prerogative of the artist, the vocation of the artist isÂ to go into the underworld and come back or not! I donâ€™t want to beÂ upset in case I have to be sentÂ toÂ the nursing home-penitentary of dementia or Alzheimerâ€™s. Iâ€™m practicing now to taste losing my mind via dementia. It is homeopathy. Cure like with like?Â Maybe. But the bottom line for me has always been, Repress not. And if things go in the direction of radical madness, at least I am familiar with howÂ loss of this present ego-danceÂ looks/feels/smells!
Meditation is another method designed to help lose the mind but videotaping meditation is not as much fun as videotaping myself resisting being diapered in a nursing home!!!!!!
Youâ€™re in a period of phasing out your video work. Why this deliberate move away from the medium?
I listen to my voices and I heard, “Linda, you are becoming a greedaholic, thinking “OhhhhhhhhhhhÂ I have to make a video aboutÂ _________ and one about————and another about___________.” The voices said, “Wow it will be so wonderful to makeÂ 82388449Â more videos.”
That scared me because this is not how I wantÂ to think.Â It’s the wall street of art mentality. More, bigger, better, another, higher, grander, winner, originator, first, brighter…the shopping listÂ of consuming inspiration is endless.
So my inner, better voice-guide said: “Stop!!! You mustÂ stop producing until your attitude changes.”
It might never change and maybe I am to justÂ beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeÂ now,Â and not do.Â
Whatâ€™s the best gift youâ€™ve ever received?
The song I am hearing right now as I email this to you, Juliana. It is called,Â SadhanaÂ and a woman from India is singing. Sorry, I meant chanting.
This is the bestÂ gift I have ever received because I canâ€™t remember the past or the future.
But I’m sure that in a few minutes, something else or someone else will beÂ the best gift I ever received or gave.
Thank you for asking me to share, like and comment with you.