Linder Sterling (originally Linda Mulvey, later shortened to 'Linder') studied graphic design at Manchester Polytechnic and was a radical feminist and well known figure of the Manchester punk and post-punk scene as girlfriend of Howard Devoto, founder of 'Buzzcocks' and later 'Magazine.' I initially became interested in Linder's work when I saw her 'Orgasm Addict' album cover for 'Buzzcocks', this being one of her earliest works.
In her Early career Linder used imagery from Men's D.I.Y and Pornographic magazines and women's Fashion and Domestic Magazines. Linder aimed to marry the two types of contrasting imagery together, the common denominator being the Female Body. These peculiar jigsaws of imagery point at the cultural expectations of women and the treatment of the female body as a commodity. 1978 brought the collaboration between Jon Savage and Linder, as they edited and produced the fanzine, 'The Secret Public'. Linder and Savage's styles worked in harmony together as they both centred around powerful and intriguing messages about the social attitudes of the time.
A distinct theme resonates through Linder's early sets of montage; the dismemberment of women by conventional attitudes towards gender and sexuality, each appears to be set in the home and one in particular shows naked male and female bodies topped with television sets for heads and placed into a pristinely catalogue-like home scene. These startling visions of sexual alienation shows 'techno-humans' who are divorced from their bodies and themselves. The television sets display the racing, drawing on the conventions of a quiet Sunday afternoon, Linder has taken her strong opinion and is shoving it in peoples face, an element of aggression and passion comes across as Linder exposes the common home for what she believes it to be. Shouting her opinion on the social attitudes of the time Linder's work has a not quite constructivist view of creating 'art.' Instead of artist as 'constructer', Linder is artist as 'Monteur'.
The fanzine was sold for 40p in various alternative shops such as 'Rough trade' This example of photocopier publishing never sold out, however this was irrelevant the point was to do it, get it out and to see what happened. Jon Savage described the use of collage as ' A moment of glorious liberation to work with simply blade, glass and glue.'
The more I researched Linder, the more I could relate to her work, from her background; studying in Manchester and living in Salford and the themes and attitudes towards women and archaic attitudes throughout history. Even down to the her storage of boxes containing 'mouths' 'eye's 'domestic appliances' ready to use whenever needed.
In 1980 Linder formed post-punk group Ludas, therefore continued to create album sleeves for her own band. Linder began to see herself as a found object and together with photographer Birrer, Linder began to create a type of real life montage, by holding photos of women ripped from magazines over her own face to imitate the revelation of a second skin. She would appear with 'accessories' from the first aid kit or from kitchen draws, the photos appeared in the limited edition 'SheShe' booklet, which accompanied Ludas' six track album 'Pickpocket'. Not only did Linder convey her views on sexual politics through her work but also in her performances, using confrontational tactics. Her notorious performance at the Hacienda, adorned with raw meat entwined within the fabric of her dress, amidst bloody cocktails and a black dildo, she famously destroyed the ambience of the Hacienda's chilly macho-cool.
Montage appears to form a continuum throughout Linder's career. Linder began to experiment with performance art, 'The return of Linderland' 2000, contrasting characters, played by Linder are flung together and forced to exist side by side. In 'the working class goes to paradise' Linder appears as Clint Eastwood and founder of the shaker movement 'Ann Lee', whilst Manchester exists alongside the 'Old West' this references to Linder's early work with the merging of Men's and Women's have magazines, the difference being that the scalpel, glass and glue have now been replaced with prosthetic make-up, costume and film.
Linder has created artwork for her good friend Morrissey and a book of photographs called 'Morrissey and Linder; We are your thoughts Morrissey is quoted as saying, 'Linder took up the pen, the brush, the chalk and stood as if behind a machine gun, perceiving danger swiftly and more keenly than the shell suited mutants of surrounding Manchester.'
In recent years Linder's work has gone full circle with a return to montage. 'The Paradise Experiments' use rose catalogues and ballet annuals combining to create very pretty feminine works, almost sickly sweet, these show a shift in Linder's attitudes and themes, the strong rebellious nature of youth being replaced for a subtler more refined opinion, as the attitudes of the current change, the artists work must move alongside.
If I have become known for fusing an image of a naked woman with an image of a domestic appliance then there remains something in that empowering-the collision of opposites, their resonance their absurdity and duty' -Linder Sterling 2006.Most recently in 2009 Linder has collaborated with Australian fashion designer 'Richard Nicholl.' The Lingerie masks worn by Devoto in Buzzcocks in 1977 are seen in this powerfully feminine collection, which accentuates the modern woman conveying sex appeal without losing dignity, it is not surprising Nicholl wanted Linder to create fabric prints for his designs, as she remains relevant and still true to her opinions even today.