Performance artists act intuitively,
authentically, and fearlessly to answer or pay attention to the
drama, trauma, and subconscious issues of their life.
Those who are not activists are concerned with their own
stories. In being truthful to this vocation, they
shamanistically answer the questions of all humanity. Cavewomen
were the first performance artists.
I most admire the performance artists who are aware of
the sacred in their art.
I've written books about performance art.
They're in my archive at the Fales Library of New York
I have made it my business to look at what is happening
in my life, and twist that issue around aesthetically so
that I can endow my life with awareness. Art is a method which
allows for an interesting way to be with dailyness.
For example, in the '70s, I wasn't feeling
grounded or present in my marriage; so I blindfolded myself for a
week and stayed at home. I did this more than once, and it taught
me how to let go of an outside addictiveness and learn how to come
inside - be at home.
Performance art is prayer. And the purpose of
prayer is to be connected to the divine. It takes confidence to do
this without relying on clergy or a priest or an
Some performers literally need to be naked, so
that they can strip themselves of their hypnotic, daily ignorance.
Some performance artists use danger as a way to wake up and pay
attention to life.
I'm the daughter of first- generation immigrants to the
US, who worked very hard and diligently. I'm the product
of Catholic schools and training.
I was mentored by my parents, who were people
of service to others. I saw how giving and working and serving were
foundational and necessary components for happiness. Of course,
there are some cracks in this system, because I had to then relearn
things like inner joy and pleasure, and slowing down and self-care
later on in life.
I grew up in a small upstate New York village,
and was given freedom to run out and play and come home for lunch
and then go back out again - without parents or babysitters. What a
joy! My family was typical of the 1940s, and we felt the effects of
the Depression and the Second World War very deeply. As a result,
life was also quite serious.
Luckily there was balance, because both of my
parents were musicians and artists, and my grandmother was an
"outsider artist" who took her teeth out and sang for us. Art was
always in the air.
I endure - and endure through long
performances, some of them over many years - because it is the
fastest way for me to learn how to leave my insistence on being in
the past or future. Endurance tires out my discursive reasoning and
my worry-hurry mind so well that I can only give up, surrender,
become present. That is heaven on earth.
When I was sevenish, I told Christ on the
crucifix, while I was in church, that I was going to suffer more
than him. I was doing this so I could be as good, because that is
what the nuns had instructed: "Be like Jesus." I just got it all
As a result of this mistake, I became a
life-long suffering junkie. It took me many years to change and
undo these early catechism misunderstandings, and learn that love
is the way. Learning is not always about experiencing.
My inspiration comes from calling undoable
romantic desire my muse. Then once the muse appears, I let go of
the impossible and create or live with divine air.
Teresa of Avila is one great influence on me.
Someone with the nerve to write that many books; with the nerve to
found that many convents and monasteries; with the nerve to fend
off that many demonic attacks in her cell at night; with the nerve
to heal from many illnesses or surrender to the ones not healed;
with the nerve to want to hide her levitations; with the nerve to
travel on bullock carts over rough terrain; with the nerve to
travel through seven prayer-stages to reach union; with the nerve
to demand that she be surrounded by "happy nuns"; with the nerve to
dance and sing with her Sisters . . . is worthy of being an
influence and guide in this vale of tears.
I'm back in the Roman Catholic Church as a
radical, a person who thinks and questions and responds
critically. I'm back as one who becomes very attentive at the
sacraments of holy communion and confession. I also attend
Charismatic deliverances. My website, blog, and videos on YouTube
will show in images how the Church has themed my performances.
LGBT themes were part of my work at one time.
Now I am less about pointing fingers at differences, and more about
I relax watching trash TV, like tabloid junk
shows and game shows. Don't tell anyone.
As I age, dreaming becomes a treasured site.
That's where I travel for pleasure.
I hope to focus exclusively on the
non-material: torch-singing and writing. I just sent 150
boxes of my work off to the archive at Fales Library, New York
University, and I am tired of magnetising stuff to myself. No more.
I pray most for empty, clear, unimpeded
If I was locked in a church for a few hours,
I'd like to be there with my new video One=Love.
Linda Mary Montano was talking to Terence Handley
Examples of Ms Montana's work, including her performances as
Bob Dylan and Mother Teresa, can be found on YouTube.