The Virgin of Guadalupe is Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image. Each year, on December 12, six million Mexican Catholic pilgrims come to the hill of Tepeyac to pay homage to this 'Queen of Mexico'. The iconography of the Virgin is impeccably Catholic, but the image also has a hidden layer of coded messages for the indigenous people. When the coherent symbolic system for making sense of their lives was destroyed by the Spaniards, the Aztecs needed something new. The image of Guadalupe served that purpose. A specific interest in and fascination for belief systems and rituals led Alinka Echeverria (Mexico City, 1981) to adopt a personal approach on this journey to the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico City. She decided to photograph the backs of the pilgrims turned away from the camera, showing us a view of the figure with its precious treasure. A smart move, for it stresses the anonymity of the masses and directs our focus to the power of the icon.
Alinka Echeverria is a graduate of the International Center of Photography in New York and holds an MA (Honours) in Social Anthropology and Development from the University of Edinburgh. The Road to Tepeyac was announced in February 2011 as the winner of HSBC Prix Pour La Photographie, an annual prize awarded by the HSBC Cultural Foundation in France. The series has been on view throughout Europe this summer.