Julieta Pestarino

Julieta Pestarino

© Julieta Pestarino, Portrait of unidentified person #4, 2015.

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For some time, researching in public and private archives of images, I began to think about various aspects of photography as a document. In early twentieth-century studio portraits, in Latin America, most of the people photographed were usually men. All the people in front of a camera were specially prepared for it, visually enhancing those signs that allowed them to easily distinguish their social role: military, religious, wealthy person, political or indigenous, among others. Playing with this type of iconic and representative elements, I decided to work on one of the most ingrained paradigms of Western culture: the bipartite sexual division. Resuming the gesture of Marcel Duchamp in his famous work “L.H.O.O.Q” of the Mona Lisa with whiskers, the action of transposing faces of lords into bodies of ladies generates a rupture in that everyday photographed.

I try to generate reflection on the standards perpetrated, interrogating our culture and its representation through a simple deconstructive practice. “Portrait of unidentified person” started in 2015 during a residence in No Place Contemporary Art, in the city of Quito, Ecuador. The original images used belong to the National Archive of Photography of the National Institute of Cultural Heritage of Ecuador. In that archive almost all the portraits are labeled as "portrait of unidentified woman" and "portrait of unidentified man". This historical anonymity and the archival action of preserving and classifying I find it extremely interesting but at the same time violent, and for that reason I decided to take it back in the name of the series "Portrait of unidentified person".

This series won in 2019 the 11th IILA-PHOTOGRAPHY Prize “Gender equality” of the Italian Latin American Institute (IILA) in Rome. It was published in the magazines Yogurt #Bad taste (2021, Italy), Dextrose Magazine #1 Gender and sexuality (2020, Argentina), and Balam #Mestizxs (2020, Argentina).