According to my mother I was not visible inside her, that is, the pregnancy didn't show. She was flat and, "everyone was shocked when you were born, Linda." After years of research into my own reasons for why I do performance, I've found this uterine one to be as plausible as any. Haven't I felt a need to shock myself and audiences since then?
We all are encoded at conception and have picked up attitudes and tendencies while in the womb. Behavioral scientists are realizing this and as a result, a new age-ish training course is offered to parents-to-be; preparing the whiz kids of tomorrow by sending them to pre, pre, pre nursery school, The School Of The Womb. In the class, parents are encouraged to read books to the fetus through the mother's mouth, make sounds so sounds at birth won't be startling, etc. You can imagine other permutations.
Having been born before all of that, much of my work is about our mending the past. On the other hand early conditioning and deprivation has produced some interesting and outrageous later manifestations, gestures and actions. The way that I read it is that since I was virtually invisible in the womb, I carried that theme over into my life and later on made an art of it.
With all due respect and thanks to my parents, I would like to illustrate how the theme of invisibility / disappearance / transcendence was first acted out in life… and then, once I realized that I might as well make a career of the actions, how I transferred the theme to matter itself and eventually to myself (performance).
Life…Four Ways Of Leaving The Body
  1. As a newborn I became allergic to my formula and threw it up. My mother reports, "It used to look like cottage cheese coming out of your mouth." (leaving physically)
  2. When 7 years old, I threw up breakfast every morning before school, down my parents new wallpaper because I couldn't tell them that the kids walked on my coat in the cloakroom. After hospitalization, where I never threw up, I told the reason, was given a special place in the coatroom and it never happened again. (leaving physically)
  3. When 21, while in the convent, I became anorexic and left weighing 82 pounds. I was getting close to solving the riddle of physical transcendence but the methods were drastic. (leaving physically)
  4. When 28, I was in a car accident. It turned over and my astral body left. I remember the feeling when it came back in. (leaving astrally)

Art…a Place To Practice Disappearance Safely…
The above "life" examples are pre-performance ways that I solved things and asked questions. First there was traditional art, done in a primitive way…any time that I used my hands to make a representation of thoughts or feelings, I called that art. It was effective; my method of talking, relating, etc. Can you imagine the joy of discovering a medium and world where the invisible could be made visible? For years I grounded myself with clay, wood, metal. STUFF. Eventually I collaged Catholicism, humor, content — packaged it aesthetically and called the actions performance.
The following five performances represent a gradual shift in the concept of the self:
  1. Animal as self.
  2. Self as animal/saint.
  3. Self as other.
  4. Self as one.
  5. Self.
I presented chickens place in: in cages for my MFA show. I saw them as a metaphor for me, hoping they would illustrate how afraid and frantic I was.
By becoming the chicken I could also be the nun/saint in disguise. By doing the actions on the street, I was drawing in attention that I couldn't give myself and yet learning from audiences how to eventually be with and attend to myself. The endurances were short (3 hours sitting, etc.) but were training me, publicly. And because I had strong messages to not be (from being a non-seen fetus, a woman, a sinner), I could easily become anyone or anything, even a chicken.
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 its invitation to dramatize, I resurrected in myself 7 personae… and a I found it easier to be them, perfect them, speak as them, than I did to be myself. By now I was beginning to ask, "Who is the real Linda Montano?"
Tehching Hsieh's form is extremely rigorous. With his performances he keeps himself devoted, ethical, focused, in danger, responsible and exhausted. I joined him in the 1983-84 experiment. The intensity of being tied with an 8 foot rope, not touching, always in the same room (there are even more devotions that are too numerous to list) drove me in three directions.
  1. Back into the darkness of repressed rage, violence and madness that I am still in the process of sorting out with traditional/professional therapies.
  2. Wholeheartedly into the present where being and moving together was like dancing.
  3. Into an altered state of union, transcendence and indivisibility that verged on the divine.
5. SELF:
After being tied for a year, I knew that I needed to design a long term project that would teach me about the possibility of art being life and life, art. By insuring myself that I am "in art" to create since every minute is framed and taken care of.
Included in the recipe that I have written for the 7 years is an experiment to see if I can get out of my own way and channel another. Each year I invite in a different entity (one matching the intention of the chakra I'm working on) into my body. So for year one, (French accent, sex) Joan of Are was the guide. I imagined myself as her and used her outrageous courage to cut through my sexual past. The next year I became inhabited by the spokesperson of Teresa of Avila (security, second chakra, Spanish accent). For the third year the first time a living person is the guide… Meridel Leseur (Country Western, heart, green.) Among other things, this piece is reminding me to ask:
Answering these questions is all that I ever ask of my art. That's enough. But if a good performance comes out of it, that's a bonus.
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It was hard enough being an artist in NYC with studio apartments renting for $1200-$2000, but it had been 96 degrees outside for the last three days and nights. The heat exhausted them even more than the treadmill that they were on. Doggedly, determinedly, Jennifer and Steven made it work as they had for the last two and a half years — with gallery jobs, putting up walls, consulting, waitressing and sometimes dalliances — the ultimate cause of all their problems. Because when they lived in downtown Manhattan before it was so popular and called SoHo, spaces were large, rents low so that no one had to work hard to eat or sleep. Art then was about a lifestyle which happened in luxurious time/space frames. Now it was business — no longer mental and physical play. The money then was hardly an issue, seemingly to come miraculously from little effort or maybe the sky‚Ķ..that's how easy it was.
Now was entirely different. Both of them had made it, were famous overnight, stars with reviews in Artforum, Japan Times as well as 150 other newspapers and magazines. To keep everything going, they needed more money yet had less time to make the art that might bring the money. This resulted in extraordinary amounts of stress which they blamed on the system. "Once you're famous, they think you're rich," Jennifer told Steve almost every night over steamed veggies and Sue Simmon's nightly report. Steve responded with his own worries. "I'll have to call my agent to see if she booked that 10 week teaching gig at Ohio State which should cover the costs of the new video that I'm working on." They often wondered if this is what the Buddhist precept Right Livelihood was all about. Would their pace and need to be in the world so intensely co-produce enlightenment? Or was the work similar to a Herculean boulder pushed up an unquenchable art hill? Maintaining the fame to pay the rent was a dialectic seemingly without solution or merit.
That was the pattern. Days at other people's jobs and nights at their own work; but after four and a half hours in their studios, even that was forgotten. Jennifer's 36D breasts responded first, signaling that there was more to come, anticipating Steven's hot hands. Although they never needed the added excitement, she often put on a red push up bra spilling herself over the top, nipples half showing. "Steven would you like some milk before we go to bed?" she asked appearing at his studio door, pushing her body into his, a Judo-like strength, her ass sliding against his — cock which massaged his balls since they were both sitting on an "art chair that he was working on for a performance at the Kitchen. He felt her up from behind, wanting to nurse but limited himself to touching her ampleness. Reaching behind to grasp the back of his head, she would pull his face into her neck, upper back…his nose nuzzling her hair, smelling everything. She felt him grow even harder if that was at all possible… but constrained by her ass pushing against him, a mini-bondage. Unable to stand it any longer, he picked her up, turned her around to face him so that his tongue could be satisfied…a hunger that never ended, an eating without food. Their mouths were caverns of delight, caves of pleasure, wet rhythm makers. They played there, slowly at first, giving completely with soft lips, teasing, thrusting, pressing their tongues together as if on a pane of glass…exchanging wave lengths and twin vibrations — ionizing with that watery muscle.
No more was needed but they continued, generous with their pleasuring, giving gifts, getting gifts. His cock was now tight between them, both of their stomachs created vaginal lips, large ones, lubricated with summer sweat and spit that she dropped purposely down on the head of his erection. Like-wise, his balls imitated or became a mock vagina for her clitoris, now hard and large enough to rest between and in their softness. "Who's first tonight?" she asked, knowing that it was her turn since they traded off every week. It was her turn to be assertive, to ask, to come first or not at all, to tell the truth. "Me first," she breathed into his ear, "me first and I'll tell you how I want it." She led him into the bathroom, hardly able to walk — his penis a divining rod, desiring her ass, her cunt, her cleavage, her mouth…a place inside. Lowering themselves slowly into the hot tub, they sat, re-birthing, breathing, cleaning out old conditioning. "This is sex too, Steven. I'm coming all over, up my spine, in my crotch, around my eyes and it's because of us. This is what I wanted tonight and more." The dance was not over, in fact the im provisation had just begun. She swam to him, he lowered himself into the water and simultaneously into her clean cunt with the punk haircut.
Lifting her legs over each side of the tub spread her more so that he could eat her higher and deeper. "Harder, harder, yes that's right," instructing him shyly, assertively. With her orgasm, she descended down his body, a slide, a fish-like move eventuating in his cock going deep inside her, becoming an anchor. They moved as if twins in utero, safe in placental liquid. "Now let's dry off and go to bed, I'm not finished with you," she said after a half hour of lying together in the water, joined at the genitals, absorbing mucous, rhythm, warmth. By then they were deified, prepared, opened…having set up an atmosphere of trust, exchange and potential flight.
The reality of drying off didn't break the mood or concentration, just tuned it to another level — that of practicality, but done so consciously that is was sensuously sacred. "Do my back, Steven," and he dried her shining skin with an attitude so maternal, so unabashedly adoring, that she cried with gratitude and an even deeper release. "Steven, I can't bear another moment. Do I deserve all of this love?", secretly thanking the years of therapy and hard work both of them had done on themselves to clear any barriers in the way of trust.
They were now truly innocent, as if in Paradise that guilt free, that available, that giving. And they continued. "Let me on top. I'll slide slowly, then suck you so that I can taste you and myself,"and she began arousing his balls…both in her mouth at the same time as if bowling…propelling them out of her mouth into the penis which got exceedingly harder as she ate. "You are my ice cream, my son, my tower, my father, my god. Fuck my tits, push into my roll." He slid in, wet with her saliva. "Jennifer, I can't wait any longer. Let me come." "Wait," she pleaded, "it's my night. I want to give us more." And she began riding him, all seven inches, in-then out, in-then out. "Use your fingers on me. Let's come together." He knew exactly how to do that, light streaming from his sculptor's hands, setting off a current that flowed from the base of her spine to the crown of her head. "Fuck me, show me how much you want to fuck me. I'll give you everything. Just fuck me. Love me, fuck me." And he did. He did it over and over. They groaned like lions that night, like the earth thawing in the spring, like an electrical synapse in motion, exquisitely timed and synched.
While laying together afterward, consciously moving the energy between them, she didn't have the heart to tell him that she would need the abortion after all, since her pregnancy was fallopian.
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