Face me por favor – Victoria Eidelsztein In the StudioMarch 19, 2019
Vacant walls lining the streets of Buenos Aires form the canvas for Victoria Eidelsztein’s large stylized portraits. In 2017, Victoria and her partner Matt initiated a street-art project titled Face me por favor (Face me please) which utilizes portraiture as a tool to celebrate difference, foster community, and share stories with the goal of connecting Buenos Aires’ residents to each other.
“We were both interested in telling people’s stories,” Victoria explains, “and as individual artists who still maintain our own practices, this was a collaborative venture that we could work on together.”
To kick off the project, the duo set up an email account as a channel to receive submissions, painted a sample of large colorful portraits, and put them up in different neighborhoods around Buenos Aires. Their initial call asked interested contributors to submit a photograph as the source image, and fill out an online form responding to a set of thoughtful and light-hearted questions. “Are you a cat or a dog person?”, “How has living in the city shaped your worldview?” and “What was a trying time in your life?” are three of twenty questions shared with participants. Occasionally contributors would submit stories without responding to the questionnaire–instead adapting their own approach to reflect on their life journeys.
No longer a luxury product, exclusive, or elitist, Face me por favor challenged the classical context of portraiture. The open call and diverse participants allowed for increased visibility of often-marginalized bodies by presenting them with agency in public space, and the venue (the internet and the streets) made the work accessible to everyone moving about in the city, creating a new democratized tradition of portraiture. The stories shared also addressed a range of universal experiences as participants articulated their struggles, life goals, anxieties, joys and everything in between.
As an Art-In-Education Workspace resident in the spring of 2019, Victoria worked in the silkscreen studios on a similar project, this time putting out an open call to women on the East Coast to submit photographs and stories. Choosing to primarily screenprint on kraft paper and newsprint, she found that the medium lent itself well to her practice:
“I attended a classical art school that mostly focused on intaglio which was a more traditional type of printing. Though they dedicated the least amount of time to screenprinting, I remember really enjoying it. For what I am doing now, screenprinting is the best medium because it allows me to make multiples and go out into cities and paste them.”
Upon receiving submissions from interested women participants, Victoria drew the portraits while experimenting with color gradients and painterly printing techniques. She worked through different layout and font possibilities, incorporating the text within the portrait, and sometimes using the surrounding space to narrate the story shared by the contributor. Consistent with her art-making philosophy around accessibility and storytelling, at the end of her residency Victoria installed editions of her prints in the gallery outside WSW’s silkscreen studios. She also invited anyone passing through the space to take home prints that they liked.
“I believe in art that is in the service of what is going on. I feel like art could be something superficial but it could also be the opposite and attached to a bigger idea or anything in between. By drawing women, it is a way of representing and memorializing their experiences.”
Victoria Eidelsztein (b.1987) holds a degree in Visual Arts with an emphasis in print making from Universidad del Museo Social Argentino (UMSA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After graduating in 2013, she taught art in different institutions around the city. Working in a variety of media including printmaking, drawing, digital art and painting, Victoria applies her diverse skillset in collaborative projects such as books illustrations and creating visuals for live music concerts and dance shows. Over the past two years Victoria has focused her work of portraiture and in 2017, together with her partner Matt, established the project Face me por favor.