Born in 1941, Sylvia Palacios Whitman lived in southern Chile before moving to Santiago, where she studied painting and sculpture at the Universidad de Chile. In 1961 Whitman moved to New York and soon took an interest in dance and theater. She quickly became actively engaged in performance art, working with a number of artists, including Robert Whitman, whom she married in 1968. Between 1974 and 1981 Whitman staged her own performance works at New York venues. Her pieces were typically performed by untrained participants and regularly incorporated found and manufactured props, which were frequently ephemeral, often made of paper of strong, and discarded after the performance.