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East Wing is honoured to welcome Federico Estol to our talented collection of contemporary image makers!

Born in 1981 Uruguayan photographer and artivist Federico Estol is based in Montevideo. He currently works as a visual storyteller producing narratives in Latin America. Estol’s long-term projects are focused on the relationships between cultural identity, inequality and social justice. Estol is also the Artistic Director of SAN JOSÉ FOTO festival and Editor of El Ministerio Ediciones photobook publishing house.

© Federico Estol from the series "Shine Heroes"Estol holds a bachelor’s degree in photography from the UPC-Barcelona Tech University and a degree in popular education from MFAL Franciscan Multiversity. His work has garnered awards including Emergentes award at Encontros da Imagem festival (Portugal), New Visión award at Cortona on the Move festival (Italy), Photolucida award of the Oregon Center of Photography (USA), FELIFA International photobook award (Argentina) and Expert Award of the Lishui Photography Museum (China).

He has also been a nominee for the Paris Photo–Aperture Photobook Award (France), the Prix Pictet (Switzerland), the Kaunas Photo Star (Lithuania) and the Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography (Israel).

East Wing is thrilled to be presenting Estol’s most recent work “Héros Del Brillo” (Shine Heroes). An ongoing collaborations with sixty shoe shiners associated with the NGO “Hormigón Armado.” Together they planned  the scenes during a series of graphic novels workshops, incorporating the local elements of the urbanity of El Alto and produced photographic sessions with them as co-authors of a street photobook to fight against their social discrimination.

There are 3000 shoe shiners who go out into the streets of La Paz and El Alto suburbs each day in search of clients. They are from all ages and in recent years have become a social phenomenon in the Bolivian capital.

© Federico Estol from the series "Shine Heroes"What characterizes this tribe is the use of ski masks so they will not be recognized by those around them. They confront the discrimination they face through these masks; in their neighbourhoods no one knows that they work as shoe shiners. At school they hide this fact, and even their own families believe they have a different job when they head down to the center of the city from El Alto.

The mask is their strongest identity, what makes them invisible while at the same time unites them. This collective anonymity makes them tougher when facing the rest of society and is their resistance against the exclusion they suffer because they carry out this work.

His works hae been acquired by various private and public collections, including the FOLA Latin American Photo collection in Buenos Aires, The Institute of Latin American Studies IHEAL of the University Sorbonne in Paris, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Lishui Photography Museum China, and the Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum.

© Federico Estol from the series "Shine Heroes"50 % of this artworks sales provide additional funding to sixty shoe shiners of the Hormigon Armado organisation (Bolivia) involved in the Shine Heroes project.  See more about Estol’s other projects on his website.