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Isobel Whitelegg

(b La Vega, Mantanzas, 1959).

Cuban painter, photographer, installation and performance artist, active also in the USA. Campos-Pons studied at the Higher Institute of Art, Havana (1980–85). Initially a painter, her graduation show Acoplamientos (1985; Havana, HIA) was concerned with representations of the female body as a device for prohibition and control, and her early work focused on the role of women in society and their representation within the history of art. In 1988 she went to the USA as a visiting artist at the Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, and in 1991 she settled permanently in Boston. Using shaped canvases, her first works displayed an interest in the interrelationship between painting and three-dimensional media. While living in the USA she also expanded her interest in sculpture and installation to include elements of video and performance.

Living abroad also brought her relationship to Cuba into sharper relief; work produced in the early 1990s addressed her own displacement in relation to the enforced migration of her ancestors as slaves, and the way in which an imagined Africa is collectively created in contemporary Cuba by story-telling, the cultivation of traditional medicinal plants and the practice of the Afro-Caribbean Santería religion. Using performance and video as a form of self-portraiture, another aspect of her practice focuses on her attempt to build a coherent identity as an Afro-Cuban woman living in the USA. With the aim of achieving simultaneity between performance and its immediate capture in the production of an unalterable image, her self-portraits employ large-format colour Polaroid photography, as in the diptych ...