Linda Montano

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Linda Montano
Born Linda Mary Montano
(1942-01-18) January 18, 1942 (age 74)
Saugerties, New York
Nationality American
Education College of New Rochelle
Maryknoll Sisters (novice)
University of Wisconsin (sculpture)
Known for performance art
Awards ARTIES Award, 1st Annual Performance Art Award, Franklin Furnace (1986)
Susan B. Anthony Award, Window for Peace (February 1988)
Bessie Award for Innovative Artists (Seven Years of Living Art, 1992)
Best Performance Artist (Chronogram, 2000)

Linda Mary Montano (born January 18,[1] 1942, Saugerties, New York) is an American performance artist.


She was raised in a devoutly Roman Catholic household, partly Irish and partly Italian, that was surrounded by artistic activity. Both her parents played in an orchestra[2] but Linda's fascination with Catholic ritual and desire to do humanitarian service led her to join the novitiate of the Maryknoll Sisters after one year studying at the College of New Rochelle. After two years with the order, however, Montano was suffering from severe anorexia, weighing only 80 pounds (36 kg),[3] and she left the order to return to her former college, from which she graduated in 1965 as a sculptor.


During the rest of the 1960s, Linda continued to study and began performing, and by 1971 she was devoting herself exclusively to performance art.[4] Around this time she married the photographer Mitchell Payne. During this period, Montano drifted away from the Catholic Church, but despite this loss of faith, Montano was consistently to acknowledge the influence of her strict Catholic upbringing on her work - for instance in how the discipline of convent life and her family's loyal work-ethic made her able to carry out extremely disciplined performances in her later career.[5][6] Montano's first major performance, Chicken Woman (1972) was based on her MFA sculpture show at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. There she exhibited nine live chickens in three 8-foot (2.4 m) by 16-foot-long (4.9 m) minimalist chicken wire cages on the roof of the art building. It was titled "The Chicken Show" from 1969.[7]

Linda had moved to San Francisco 1970 with her husband,[7] and it was there that she established herself with performances like "Handcuff" (1973 with Tom Marioni) where she was physically tied to other artists, and "Three Day Blindfold" (1974), where she lived for three days blindfolded and had to find her way around. The death of her husband led to further exploration of art as a healing modality ("Mitchells' Death", 1978) and she continued her art-theology dialogue by living in a Zen monastery for three years and to Ananda Ashram in the 1980s where she studied with Dr. Ramamurti Mishra for over 30 years. His influence and appreciation of her vision encouraged both her art and life.[8] Upon meeting Taiwanese performance artist Tehching Hsieh, they performed a collaboration whereby the two artists were bound to each other by a length of rope 24 hours a day for a whole year (from July 4, 1983 to July 3, 1984).[9] During the late 1980s Montano began teaching Sacred Sex workshops with Annie Sprinkle and Barbara Carrellas with whom she also created MetamorphoSex (later changed to The Art of Love at Montano's suggestion), a "workshop, sex magic ritual and theatre performance rolled into one" which was first performed in Texas in 1995.[10]

From 1984 onwards Montano did another ambitious project titled "Seven Years of Living Art", in which she lived in her home in Kingston wearing strictly monochromatic clothing, spent a portion of every day in a coloured room, and listened to a designated tone, all of which corresponded to the energetic qualities of a specific chakra.[11] She changed colour every year, and after the project was finished followed it up with "Another Seven Years of Living Art", in part to memorialise her mother, Mildred Montano, who died in 1988 of colon cancer.[12] This time she did not use the colours, but aimed to focus on the same chakras. From 1998, Montano has given cycles to other artists: MIchelle Bush, Barbara Carrellas, SC Durkin, Koosil-Ja Hwang, Vernita N'Cognita, Esther K. Smith, Krista Kelly Walsh, with satellite projects by Victoria Singh & Kurtis Champion, Steven Reigns and Elizabeth Stephens & Annie Sprinkle[13] hoping to give three cycle to three arts each dating up to 2019.[14] After this, Montano focused upon freelance teaching of performance art, caring for Henry Montano (her increasingly ill father) and counseling people again practicing "Art/Life Counseling", a technique she used for seven years at The New Museum where curator Marcia Tucker had built a private room and allowed Montano to counsel people once a month in the window installation which was painted the same color that Montano wore for that year. At that time (1984–1991) Montano used tarot, palm and psychic readings as tools of discovery as well as attentive listening so that she could respond to the questions of her clients and she intended to find the most creative way to respond to their problems and difficulties. (Currently Montano still does "Art/Life/Laugher Counseling" but without the assistance of tarot, palm and psychic readings because they are forbidden by her current practice of Catholicism).

The influence of her father led Montano to return to Catholicism and ultimately to Church attendance,[14] and since 2005 she has taken gathered prayer requests to more than ten Catholic pilgrimage sites throughout the world. Montano also meets with others in Catholic Churches for 3 hours silent retreats, re-seeing the concept of endurance from new Catholic-eyes. Since returning to Catholicism, Montano has made numerous videos exploring the faith, including Father Lebar: Catholic Priest and Exorcist; Saint Teresa Of Avila By Linda Mary Montano, and currently Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She also performs three-hour endurances, lip-syncing as Paul McMahon and Bob Dylan.

Her work investigates the relationship between art and life through intricate, life-altering ceremonies, some of which last for seven or more years. She is interested in the way artistic ritual, often staged as individual interactions or collaborative workshops, can be used to alter and enhance a person's life and to create the opportunity for focus on spiritual energy states, silence and the cessation of art/life boundaries.

Montano donated her archive to the Fales Library and Special Collections at NYU in 2013.


  • Characters: Learning to Talk (1978) 45 min
  • Mitchell's Death (1978) 22 min
  • Primal Scenes (1980) 11 min
  • Anorexia Nervosa (1981) 60 min
  • On Death and Dying (1982) 22 min
  • Sharada, Wife of Ramakrishna (with Andy Cockrum and Chris Erlon) (1995) 23 min
  • Seven Spiritual Lives of Linda M. Montano (with Andy Cockrum and Chris Erlon) (1996) 13 min
  • Seven Stages of Intoxication (with Andy Cockrum and Chris Erlon) (1996) 34 min
  • Father Lebar: Catholic Priest and Excorcist (2008)
  • Saint Teresa Of Avila By Linda Mary Montano
  • Mother Teresa of Calcutta



  1. ^ "Linda Mary Montano". 1942-01-18. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  2. ^ Stanton, Victoria. "Linda Montano is Living Art (interview with Ascent Magazine)". Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  3. ^ Heidenry, John; What Wild Ecstasy: the Rise and Fall of the Sexual Revolution; p. 382. ISBN 0-684-81037-9
  4. ^ Wark, Jayne; Radical Gestures: Feminism and Performance Art in North America, p. 98. ISBN 0-7735-3066-5
  5. ^ Wark; Radical Gestures; p. 98
  6. ^ Stanton, Victoria. "Linda Montano is Living Art". Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  7. ^ a b Montano, Linda; Performance Artists Talking in the Eighties: Sex, Food, Money/Fame, Ritual/Death; p. 17. ISBN 0-520-21022-0
  8. ^ "Linda Montano". Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. 
  9. ^ "The Year of the Rope". Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. 
  10. ^ Sprinkle, Annie (2006). Hardcore From the Heart: The Pleasures, Profits and Politics of Sex in Performance. Continuum International. p. 33. ISBN 0826490697. 
  11. ^ "Linda M. Montano: 14 Years of Living Art". [dead link]
  12. ^ Montano, Linda M., "Death in the Life and Art of Linda M. Montano"; in Miller, Lynn C.; Taylor, Jacqueline and Carver, M. Heather (editors); Voices Made Flesh: Performing Women's Autobiography; pp. 269-281
  13. ^ Franklin Furnace; Seven Years of Living Art;
  14. ^ a b Fisher, Jennifer; Technologies of Intuition; pp. 167-180. ISBN 0-920397-43-3

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