Southern Mexico with Cristina Garcia Rodero

Magnum Photographers x The Luminaire



Folklore, festivals and syncretism in Southern Mexico

Beguiling and complex, modern Mexico is a product of divergent identities and philosophies. Eminent cathedrals, built from the fabric of Aztec temples, honour syncretic idols such as the Virgen de la Guadelupe, while pre-Hispanic death deities find new footing in the emergent veneration of ‘folk saints’ such as the skeletal Santa Muerte. How is the balance between indigenous belief and Christianity introduced by the Spanish, evolving in Mexico today? 


In the company of esteemed photographer Cristina García Rodero, this journey sets out to record Mexico’s rich cultural heritage, from its pre-Hispanic origins to the modern intermeshing of identities expressed in the art and architecture of Mexico City. Explore the tangible remnants of Mexica (Aztec) civilisation, experience and photograph the enduring rituals of Oaxaca’s La Guelaguetza Festival, and be inspired by street photography field trips that explore Mexico’s remarkable capacity for adaptation. 


Image credits: Cristina García Rodero/Magnum Photos. Lienzo al Viento, 2010 and Castrillo de Murcia, 1975.

Image credit: Cristina García Rodero/Magnum Photos. Holi Spring Festival, 2007.

Modern Mexico through the lens

Celebrated for her work photographing traditional festivities in Spain and across the Mediterranean, Spanish Magnum photographer Cristina García Rodero turns her lens toward Mexico for this journey, leading guests on a visual and anthropological study of modern Mexican identity via its festivals and rites. Roving street photography workshops will focus on reportage, documenting rituals and traditions that reveal the intersection of past and present, exploring the cults of the Virgen de la Guadelupe and Santa Muerte, and the festivities of La Guelaguetza.

Image credit: Cristina García Rodero/Magnum Photos. Pilgrimage of Niño Fidencio.

Forging Mesoamerican identity

Discover how Mexican cultural identity had its genesis in the Aztec and Maya civilisations of Central America via a private visit of the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia in Mexico City, before setting out to explore the pyramids and temples of Teotihuacan, the ‘City of the Gods’, accompanied by an archaeologist. Observing the Monte Alban archaeological site, one of the most influential urban centres of Mesoamerica, a private visit reveals the social-political and economic might of the Zapotec peoples who inhabited the Central Valley of Oaxaca as early as 500 BCE.

Image credit: Cristina García Rodero/Magnum Photos. Holi spring festival, 2017.

Syncretism and the adaptability of belief

Explore the ancient rituals and Catholic beliefs introduced by missionaries in contemporary religious traditions such as the death cults of Santa Muerte and the Día de los Muertos. Discover places of worship like Puebla’s Cathedral with the tallest towers in Latin America, and the syncretic churches of Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios, built atop Cholula’s great pyramid, and Santa Maria Tonantzintla with its folk-baroque ornamentation. In Mexico City, make a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgen de la Guadelupe where millions of Catholics worship at a site that once venerated the Aztec goddess Tonantzin. 

Image credit: Cristina García Rodero/Magnum Photos. Encounter in the Valley of Prehistory, 1999.

Festival of La Guelaguetza

For guests travelling in July, experience the colour, joy and dynamism of La Guelaguetza in the city of Oaxaca, one of the largest pre-Hispanic era celebrations still taking place in Mexico today. Its earliest origins in the ritual worship of a Zapotec corn goddess, Guelaguetza comes from the Zapotec word ‘guendalezaa’ representing the act of giving, a sentiment expressed in the riotous dances and parades performed by regional indigenous communities, and the palpable sense of fun and open-heartedness that ignites the city and surrounding villages each July. 

Image credit: Cristina García Rodero/Magnum Photos. India, 2015.



Cristina Garcia Rodero

Cristina Garcia Rodero has dedicated her life to researching and photographing popular and traditional festivities, traveling beyond her native Spain in search of little-documented communities.



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