Born in Barcelona in 1943, where she graduated in Technical Architecture. In 1968, Balcells moved to the United States, obtaining a Master in Art from the University of Iowa in 1971. She subsequently lived between Barcelona and New York until 1979, when she established residency in the United States. From 1988, she again alternated between these two cities. By the mid-1970s, she had become part of the Spanish Conceptual art scene and a pioneer in the fields of experimental cinema and audio-visual art. Balcells developed her work through the production of videos, films, installations, performances, murals and video scores. Her early work addresses the abuses of consumer society, the influence of the media on mass culture and gender stereotypes, while her later work focuses on the study of human perception, colour, light and perfect geometric figures such as the circle.
Exhibitions include Galeria Ciento, Barcelona (1978), Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (1983), Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid (1984), Institute for Art and Urban Resources, New York (1985), Museo del Barrio, New York (1987), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1995), MACBA, Barcelona (1996) and the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro (2001). Her work is included in collections such as Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Gas Natural Fenosa; Col·lecció d’Art Contemporani Rafel Tous, Barcelona; and MACBA, Barcelona.