Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons’s work is autobiographical. As Sally Berger says, “…it encompasses a larger story. It reveals a history of survival- of a culture, a religion, and a people- from the oceanic voyage from Africa during the slave trade in the 18th century, to its aftermath in Cuba on the sugar plantations, to the present day in the United States. It is a felt history- not one of the rhetorical facts and figures told through non-spoken, fragmented narratives.” [1] Campos-Pons’ work, although an expression of absence and loss, is a celebratory gesture toward a unique and resilient culture.

Her work is an investigation of history and memory, and their roles in the formation of identity. Born in Matanzas province in Cuba in 1959, Campos-Pons bears a familial history that is intermingled with the sugar industry’s presence in her hometown of La Vega. Her roots can be traced from America to a Cuban homeland, to the enslaved who were traded by Spanish colonists, and finally back to what is today Nigeria.

Her works have been exhibited in the United States, Canada, Japan, Norway, France, Italy, and Cuba. She was represented in the Johannesburg Biennial and has had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Campos-Pons’ powerful attachment to her cultural African heritage is one that she has never experienced directly but its presence in the rites and myths of her childhood makes her a Cuban transplanted in the United States, an exile twice over.

[1] Sally Berger, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons: 1990-2001; in Salah Hassan and Olu Oguibe (eds.), Authentic Ex-Centric: Conceptualism in Contemporary African Art (The Hague: Prince Claus Fund Library 2001), p. 122.


Bedlam and Balance
Bedlam and Balance
Dec 10, 2016—Mar 5, 2017
  • Exhibition
Bedlam and Balance