Isabel Rosario Cooper

2006-2010, multi-media installation

by Miljohn Ruperto
16mm Cinematographer for Appearance of Isabel Rosario Cooper:
R Yun Keagy

Koenig & Clinton, New York NY, February 28–April 12, 2014

Four years in the making, the artist deploys photography, film, video, and screenplay in homage to the eponymous actress. Isabel Rosario Cooper retrieves the actress from the sidelines of historical periphery and recasts her as a cinematic protagonist, releasing her image from the racial confines of both Hollywood and U.S. history. Isabel Rosario Cooper began her career as a dancer, singer, and actress in Manila, Philippines in the mid-1920s, where she first met U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. In 1930, MacArthur took the 16-year old, mixed race vaudevillean as his mistress and subsequently arranged to keep her in a covert residence at the Chastleton Hotel in Washington, D.C. It is rumored that Cooper abided by a strict order to not leave her room for four years. When she did eventually leave, she moved west to continue her acting career in Hollywood. Before her suicide in 1960, Cooper appeared as an extra in numerous cinematic features.