Press Release

Federico Estol: Héroes del Brillo


 Charles Schuler 
Director of Marketing & Communications 
San Francisco International Airport
(650) 821-5031

Federico Estol: Héroes del Brillo
New photography exhibition, Héroes del Brillo, features Federico Estol’s three-year collaboration with Bolivian shoe-shiners, highlighting their collective resilience and solidarity in the face of social and economic discrimination.

SAN FRANCISCO—In the bustling streets of La Paz and the sprawling suburbs of El Alto, Bolivia, nearly three thousand shoe shiners emerge each day in search of clients. What characterizes this group is the use of ski masks to obscure their identities, combat discrimination, and maintain their anonymity even among family and neighbors. The masks serve as both a unifying symbol and a form of resistance against societal exclusion, empowering them to confront prejudices related to their occupation. Their story, captured in Federico Estol’s series, Héroes del Brillo (Shine Heroes), is a poignant reminder of the daily challenges many face in their pursuit of dignity and respect. Their experience is not isolated but reflects broader global issues of labor discrimination and stigmatization.

For three years, Estol collaborated with a group of sixty shoe shiners through the local organization and newspaper, El Hormigón Armado, which advocates for the rights of shoe shiners. Through a participatory workshop-based process, they created Héroes del Brillo, a special edition of the organization’s newspaper that invited the shoe shiners to imagine a new version of their story. Borrowing from the visual language of comic books and graphic novels, and incorporating elements of daily life in El Alto, the group challenges societal perceptions through a narrative that portrays them as urban superheroes rising to meet the local demand for polished footwear. 

Federico Estol: Héroes del Brillo is located pre-security on the Departures Level in Terminal 3 of the San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is accessible to all airport visitors from November 27, 2023, to December 02, 2024. There is no charge to view the exhibition. This exhibition is produced in collaboration with Article3.Org in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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