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Exhibition by María Magdalena Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard opens at Stephan Stoyanov Gallery
Ready, 2013.

NEW YORK, NY.- Stephan Stoyanov Gallery announced the opening of the exhibition by María Magdalena Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard. This is their first exhibition at the gallery, in conjunction with their widely acclaimed collaborative participation in the Pavilion of Republic of Cuba, 55th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia.

María Magdalena Campos-Pons is one of the most prominent artists to emerge from post-Revolutionary Cuba and one of the most relevant artists presently working in the US. Her progressive transdisciplinary discourse, which includes performance, photography, painting, drawing, video, installation art and site- specific interventions, locates her oeuvre at the forefront of contemporary art practices. The exhibition presents Campos-Pons’ newest body of work in the medium of photography and drawing. Contemplative and poetical, the works are deeply invested in important contemporary topics of exilic identity, individual freedom, cultural heritage and hybridism, and racial and national politics. Starting with her own experiences of an Afro-Cuban woman whose ancestors were displaced from Africa, her exile and memories from Cuba, as well as her experience of living in the United States, Campos-Pons’s oeuvre approaches identity as a fluid, contradictory and unstable rather than firmly fixed entity in today’s globalized world. Her visually striking compositions are often fragmented self- portraits against suggestive abstract backgrounds. They feature the artist’s body in costumes that merge elements and symbols of various cultures. By employing fragments of different traditions, religions and mythologies, in particular the Yoruba, Spanish and Chinese ones, Campos-Pons metaphorically speaks about the possibilities of rebirth, liberation and refinement in relation to the broader geopolitical issues.

In correlation with Campos-Pons’ work, the exhibition also features Neil Leonard’s newest site-specific multimedia installation Pan Verdadero (True Bread), consisting of videos and sounds collected during his most recent trip to Cuba. The images and chants of Cuban street vendors (pregoneros) create an immersive experience, revealing layers of vernacular sonic spaces that have been intrinsic to Cuban urban and rural landscapes and forbidden for over half century. Leonard’s capturing and sampling of those sonic constructions brings visibility and new consideration to long forgotten traditions of folkloric music and poetical street improvisation in Cuba. The work presents the vignettes of how the forms of trade and capitalism are being reinvented, and the basic diversity of discourse changes on the island, as well as in the perceptions of the island from abroad. The shifting keynote sounds on the island signify all that has altered in recent years/ months and speak to the upcoming changes in the future.

María Magdalena Campos-Pons was born in 1959 in the Matanzas province of Cuba. She was trained at the Escuela Nacional de Arte and the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, and she did post graduate studies at Massachusetts College of Art. Campos Pons was recipient of a Harvard Fellowship 93/94. Campos-Pons' work was shown at numerous solo and group exhibitions, at the institutions such as the Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN; Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada; Sackler Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Newark Museum, Newark, NJ; TATE Liverpool, Liverpool, England; P.S.1 MoMA, Long Island City; MoMA New York, and Museum Boijmans van Beunigen in Rotterdam, among others. The artist was also featured in the exhibition Authentic/Ex-centric: Africa in and Out of Africa, as a part of the 49th Venice Biennial (2001). Campos-Pons has been the subject of numerous reviews and art publications. It is also included in several public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Art Institute of Chicago, the MFA Boston, De Cordova Museum, the Ludwig Forum for International Art in Germany, the Center for the Development of Visual Arts in Havana, Cuba, and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.

Neil Leonard is a prolific composer, performer, writer, and innovator in computer music and sound design. He has a long- standing career in working with visual artists, including María Magdalena Campos- Pons, with whom Leonard frequently collaborates since 1988. He has created sound for installations at the MoMA, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Kitchen, New York; The Seattle Art Museum; and Boston Museum of Fine Arts. His compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Banff Festival for the Arts, and the International Computer Music Convention. Widely recognized as an expert in music for multimedia, Leonard has lectured internationally, at such locations as: Centro para la Difusion de la Musica Contemporanea, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Conservatoria Nacional de Musica, Republica Dominicana; University of Puerto Rico, San Juan; and Theremin Center at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moscow, Russia. He has published more than thirty articles for American National Biography (Oxford University Press), Electronic Musician, Computer Music Journal, Innova, Green Linnet, and Sire Records, and contributed to the History Channel's documentary on the Smithsonian's Save Our Sounds project. He has performed with artists including the Boston Ballet, Joanne Brackeen, Don Byron, Robin Eubanks, Uri Caine, and Orlando Cachaito Lopez (Buena Vista Social Club), among others. Leonard is the Artistic Director of Berklee College of Music's Interdisciplinary Arts Institute and Professor of Electronic Production and Design at Berklee. In 2011, Leonard received Berklee's Distinguished Faculty Award. He is currently on the Fulbright Specialist Roster.

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