Linda Montano, Mitchell’s Death, 1977
Linda Montano
Mitchell’s Death

Originally trained as a sculptor, Linda Montano (*1942, USA) began using video in the 1970s. Attempting to obliterate the distinction between art and life, Montano’s artwork is starkly autobiographical and often concerned with personal and spiritual discipline. Montano’s practice often generates performances that last for years. In "Learning to Talk" (1975-1980) she embodies various roles and explores how language structures identity. In 1983, Montano and artist Tehching Hsieh were literally tied together for one year in a living performance. Montano’s work from the 1970s and early 1980s was critical in the development of video by, for, and about women.

Using performance as a means of personal transformation and catharsis, Mitchell’s Death mourns the death of Linda Montano’s ex-husband. Every detail of her story, from the telephone call announcing the tragedy, to visiting the body, is chanted by Montano as her face, pierced by acupuncture needles, slowly comes into focus then goes out again. The chanting is reminiscent of Buddhist texts, while the needles signify the pain that is necessary for healing and understanding.

Courtesy Video Data Bank, Chicago

Document media
Video, b&w, sound, 22:20 min

Issue date

Laura Cottingham (COT 1)
Annie M. Sprinkle (SPR 1)

death, ritual, therapy