THE ROAD TO TEPEYAC


  • Photographer
    ALINKA ECHEVERRIA
  • Prize
    2nd Place / Book/People
  • Date of Photograph
    2010
  • Technical Info
    C PRINT

The yearly pilgrimage to Tepeyac in Mexico City, is undertaken by approximately six million devout pilgrims on the anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531 to the indigenous man Juan Diego. This journey is a manifestation of the iconic power of the Virgin, whose image was miraculously imposed onto Juan Diego’s cloak. This work not only explores the power of the icon from an anthropological perspective, in the context of Mexican history and contemporary culture, but is also an exploration of the power of imagery at an individual, psychological level; particularly in its relation to faith.

Story

The yearly pilgrimage to Tepeyac in Mexico City, is undertaken by approximately six million devout pilgrims on the anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531 to the indigenous man Juan Diego. This journey is a manifestation of the iconic power of the Virgin, whose image was miraculously imposed onto Juan Diego’s cloak. This work not only explores the power of the icon from an anthropological perspective, in the context of Mexican history and contemporary culture, but is also an exploration of the power of imagery at an individual, psychological level; particularly in its relation to faith. Belief in the apparitions and their evidence, the 'sacred image of a miracle and a miracle of images', marks a turning point in the struggle for power of the Spanish conquerors, for whom evangelization was imperative to the success of the empire. They successfully conquered the imaginaire using imagery as a tool for acculturation and domination in an already extremely visual indigenous culture. The power of the icon of the virgin lies in her beauty and also in the allusion to Tonantzin, the Aztec goddess and ultimate mother; devotion to her was transferred to the Catholic Virgin of Guadalupe, the beautiful ‘brown virgin’ who chose Mexico as the land in which to manifest herself. Mexicans are her children- the chosen ones. The power of feverous devotion of Mexicans to the Virgin of Guadalupe has since been used to inspire and move the masses. Political leaders used it as a symbol of faith and freedom during the Independence movement in 1810; again during the Revolution a century later, and in 2012 is being repeatedly used in the Mexican presidential campaigns despite the country's government being officially secular. I am interested in the appropriation of the iconic image by each individual who makes it their own, hence the 300 interpretations of the icon in this series. The image empowers the individual by drawing out an inner personal power, attributed to faith in a greater being. This, rather than being culture specific seems more universal. We, as humans need to give an image to this intangible, spiritual dimension.

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