Linda Carmella Sibio

Artist Statement



Since 1985, I have worked in various media including painting, installation and performance art. In 1985, I assisted in starting The Los Angeles Poverty Department (a homeless performance art troupe on skid row in Los Angeles, CA).  During this year I started working with the homeless mentally ill which affected my work for the next 20 years.

I am very much interested in the fringe of society and how that affects culture as a whole. I have combined strong social issues such as homelessness, mental illness, suicide, mass murder, gangs, drug addiction and prostitution with progressive elements in design and form thus creating my own sub-culture language. Madness has been a dominant theme in my work having been influenced by my own diagnosis as schizophrenic and my mother’s incarceration in mental hospitals for 15 years during my childhood.

My philosophy was developed through a combination of personal experience and intellectual pursuits. My perceptions were influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s book “The Bride Stripped Bare by the Bachelor’s Even,” Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization”, “Theater and It’s Double” by Antonin Artaud and “Anti-Oedipus” by Deleuze and Gautier. Visually in design my work was developed from looking at medieval manuscript paintings, ancient ruins, Mayan hieroglyphs, Soutine, Hieronymous Bosch, and Van Gogh.

Although my visual art training stems from an academic background I have replaced these design techniques with that from my research into the perceptions of the insane. I have taken “symptoms” of insanity and transposed them into techniques for making experimental art.

These methods include fragmentation, interrupters, non-linear time sequencing, multiple layers of images and stories, dismemberment, psychological torture, broadcasting, delusions and hallucinations. These techniques have lead to work where there are layers and layers of images leading to an epic effect.

Through teaching mentally disabled persons I create a microcosm or a sub-culture against which the voice of social consciousness, politics, philosophy and visual art can be explored. In this exploration I recognized the need to integrate that, which is mad into my core thinking. It is through this that I am able to function in the context of a fragmented world.

My philosophical stance includes the modern day ostracizing of the insane from a productive society. In ancient times the insane were looked to for insights and guidance, today they clean dishes and bus tables. We can learn a lot about our society and culture by how the mad are treated. As we dispose of human beings so then we go toward a disposable culture.

The fragmented thinking of the schizophrenic is actually a window into the placement of our culture. We are living in a deconstructed world no longer thinking linear thoughts. Our perceptions are continually interrupted by television, Internet, video surveillance, the media – we no longer have a single thought. We think in a multi-layered complex pattern. In order for our culture to go forward the darkness of the dismembered body needs to come into the light. We need to fragment in order to become whole again.