Entry from Acts of Transfer:

Duration: 2 hrs 24 min
Format: Mini DV

Linda Montano is a performance artist whose work explores the idea of art as life, connected through the constant occurrence of performance in daily life. Like many feminist performance artists that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, Montano’s practice positions the personal at its core, and many of her works have an autobiographical component. Duration and interactivity also play a major role in Montano’s work, referred to as acts of “endurance.”[1] Perhaps most notably is her collaborative work Art / Life: One Year Performance 1983-1984 (Rope Piece) with Tehching Hseih, that bound the two artists together at the waist with an 8-foot rope for an entire year.[2]

In 2001, Montano was invited to Western Front by curator Victoria (Vicky) Singh as part of her year-long curatorial performance project, Contemporary Ritual Series. Montano proposed to conduct a ritual-based interactive workshop called “Living the Sacraments and Chakras” in Spring 2003.[3] The work was intended to be a reference to her performances 14 years of Living Art (1984-1998) and later, Another 21 Years of Living Art (1998-2019); a series which “compassionately practice[d] an appreciation for life and [was] a durational continuation of [her] exploration of the art of consciousness.”[4] The workshop would also converge elements of Montano’s spiritual experiences with practices derived from Catholicism and Zen Buddhism.[5] By the time Montano was supposed to travel to Western Front in 2003 however, she was acting as the primary caregiver for her ailing father and postponed her trip to stay with him and wait out the poor weather. Between 1998 and 2004 Montano cared for her father in her family home in Saugerties, NY and turned the experience into an ongoing performance documentation project titled DAD Art.[6] Despite Montano’s apologetic absence from the Front, she devised an alternative approach to her “art/life” performance that did not require her to be physically present: Living the Sacraments and Chakras was retitled Absent/Presence, a performance that intended to “expand the understandings of artistic presence.”[7] In the performance, a Linda Montano look-a-like (Jean Smith) replaces Linda Montano onstage and reads the “Seven Chakra Stories” from Montano’s website, dressing in their corresponding colours, while another invited substitute (Lana O’Keefe) appears as a manifestation of Montano’s healer/dancer character “Guru Leendah” or “Lava.”[8] “Lava” roams around the audience offering blessings, healing energies and massages while the performance unfurls.

A split-screen projection shares Smith interacting with and reading from Montano’s website as a script while the other side plays a video as a mock live feed documenting Montano actively and intimately caring for her elderly father. A phone connection is also set up to make communication between Montano and participating audience members. Halfway through the performance, four audience members speak with Montano on the phone, and ask questions about the video, her current location, and topics relating to art, reality TV, and the everyday.

Technology and media continue to influence Montano in her exploration of life and art, just as modern technologies, in granting us increased mobility and expanded modes of connection, necessitate a rethinking of “bodily presence.”[9] Technology’s impact on the domestic sphere has also allowed Montano to fulfill her role and responsibility at home as a caretaker and daughter, while also continuing to produce work as an artist.

In the Fall of 2003, Montano returned to conduct the workshop she initially proposed, this time renaming it “Respecting the Endocrine System.”The workshop was a healing ritual “for anyone wanting to pay performative/intuitive attention to the seven glands in the body” for a sustained period of time.[10] Instructions followed: “No experience is necessary. Please bring a piece of fruit, a wig (if you have one) and something soft to sit or lie on.”[11]

Linda Montano: Jean Smith
Guru Leendah/Lava: Lana O’Keefe

1 – Montano, Linda, Victoria Singh, Jean Smith, and Peter Conlin. “Linda Montano: Absent/Presence and Respecting the Endocrine System.” In Ritual in Contemporary Performance, 31-45. Vancouver: Western Front, 2004.
2 – Bibby, Charlotte. “Rope Piece: A One Year Performance Piece.” GHOST Arts Travel Life. July 12, 2015. Accessed April 2018. http://www.ghosttt.com/rope-piece-a-one-year-performance-piece/.
3 – Montano, Linda, Victoria Singh, Jean Smith, and Peter Conlin. “Linda Montano: Absent/Presence and Respecting the Endocrine System.”
4 – Ibid.
5 – Ibid.
6 – Ibid.
7 – Ibid.
8 – Ibid.
9 – Ibid.
10 – Ibid.
11 – Ibid.

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Original Archive Entry:

Victoria Singh hosts Jean Smith channeling Linda Montano (who was not able to attend, she was caring for her elderly father) reading “Chakra Story” from Montano’s website. Lana O’Keefe represented Montano’s character “Guru Leendah.” A speaker phone is made available for audience members to speak with Linda Montano, followed by a screening of a video produced for the event depicting Montano caring for her father.

The following text is taken from Front Magazine, Jan/Feb 2003 Vol.XIV No.1 P.29:

“Living The Sacraments and Chakras”
Contemporary Ritual Series
Feb 14, 8-pm, $10-$12

Come and spend valentines day with one of the most celebrated grande dames of performance art, Linda Montano.

For a period of seven years Montano lived in the seven colors of the chakras. She would wear only that color, paint her living environment accordingly and speak in a difference accents each year. Her experience living/performing this work, coupled with her experience as a Catholic Novice has enabled her to connect the Catholic Sacraments and the Chakras. She will share this information with you in a performative-workshop manner in the Lux at Western Front.

Linda Montano is a critically acclaimed artist based in New York. Her career spans over thirty five years and encompasses a vast assortment of performative styles and approaches. Famous for her work as the “Chicken Woman” as well as her endurance works, such as the year she spent ties to fellow artist Tehching Hsieh, Montano is a close friend of Annie Sprinkle’s and appears in her book Sacred Sex where she appears in a variety of personas, everything from “biker mama” to “guru leendah.”

Linda was originally a Catholic nun before embarking on her life as an artist. Her work embodies her studies of Eastern theology, however, it still makes reference to her previous Western spiritual affiliations. She views life and art as inseparable forces, and believes that life is “living art.”

Linda Montano has written six books, produced over twenty video tapes, and created over fifty major performances.