LINDA MARY MONTANO & THE HISTORY OF HER WORK WITH PERSONA
Probably my interest in being another started at age 6 when I acted out as THE VIRGIN MARY, gving out Necco wafers as substitutes for Holy Communion to neighbor friends. I insisted they kneel, and as the chief officiant, I most likely really wanted to be a male-priest but alas was born a woman so I took the next best option and became Jesus's Mother!
But artistically and formally, I began a formal persona practice in 1976 when I sat in front of a video camera (VHS) and talked to it as 7 different fictional people, wanting to be someone other than myself having just survived a painful divorce and a move to a differnt city in Califormia. I called this work CREATIVE SCHIZOPHRENIA because it allowed me to get out of me and into another, albeit all of the personas were successful and charming and smart and totally fabulous. I wans't feeling fabulous or any of those things. I called the video LEARNING TO TALK, since conversing was never my strong suite and schmoozing a verboten and disdained/harshly judged absurdity! So I tlaked, let other voices make me a new me and I healed via my art!
Although I do not embrace past lives as a personal option, I was once interviewed by a critic and I answered the questions in the voice of one of my personas, THE FRENCH POET. The experience was quite shattering because I had flashbacks, as her, and remembered living in France during a war, so maybe I was really being the old/past/reincarnated me when I took on the voices of the other 6 "people" in my tape: the nun, country western singer, karate black belt, doctor, jazz singer, hula dancer?
Over the years I performed as these fictional "people" many times and then 30 years later I began performing as LIVE PEOPLE; specifically Bob Dylan, Paul McMahon, Hillary Clinton, Jill Johnston and Mother Teresa. On analysis I thought it strange that I needed a new alive or once living mentor and model to base my projected personality onto so that i could learn new lessons but it was obvious that I was getting closer to the real me becaue all of this practice was really about a deep spiritual journey to the answer of the spiritual question, WHO AM I? as articulated by my teacher and Guru, Shri Brahmananda Saraswati, founder of Ananda Ashram.
Psychologists deliver the message that we are the product of home, religion, culture, traumas, joys and proclivities. Neurologists posit that too much left brain action cements us into the world of matter and Jill Bolte Taylor who is a neurobiologist and suffered a left brained stroke, was catapulted into a right brained love ecstasy, reminding us that we are the product of our neurobiology and whatever brain quadrant we are accessing.
Conversely, theologians of both the East and West remind us that we are not the body and mind, and Christians say, "It is not I that lives, but Christ who lives in me." Hindu meditators get to this rapture of Christ Consciousness via focused attentional meditation.
My art has always been a map for my life and I know that I have to listen to what I am doing to find out what I am thinking. And I must say that I must be thinking that ,"It is not I that lives but Christ who lives in me," because that is the logical next step in my progress of being first: Linda, then Linda as fictional others, then Linda as living/once alive others, to Linda as ONE LOVE.
I can't wait!!!