The awareness of being looked at: giving a view of the tianguis stall

Frances Paola Garnica Quiñones

El Colegio de San Luis, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

is a Conacyt postdoctoral fellow at El Colegio de San Luis. She holds a master's degree and PhD in Social Anthropology with Visual Media from the University of Manchester, UK. Her research topics include the perception and imaginary of spaces, Chinese migration in San Luis Potosi and ritual and therapeutic uses of peyote from a biocultural territory defense approach. She is co-director of the documentary ...And I'm not leaving the neighborhood! (2019).

Image 1

Tianguis: a place to watch

CDMX, 2012. 

Once a week the Ruta 8 de Mercados sobre Ruedas is installed in eight different neighborhoods of the CDMX. People visit with certain expectations of the place:

The tianguis is a light bulb on, a journey, a back and forth, going in search of something with the desire to get something, open space, without walls, without walls. There is room for everyone; it is a tradition, an adventure, a means of sustenance, a job and a chinga. - Rodrigo, dealer.

Picture 2

"The tianguis can be seen, smelled and touched" (Jorge, art dealer).

CDMX, 2013. 

The atmosphere of a tianguis is generated in large part thanks to the work that tianguistas put into the presentation of their stalls.

The main expectations of a tianguis from the perspective of the marchantes are that, 1) its installation is on the public street, 2) there is an atmosphere of exploration, sociability and personalized attention, 3) there are products that are not found in other establishments and at low cost, 4) the visit is recreational and enjoyable, 5) there is room for maneuver in the commercial exchange, such as bargaining and bargaining.

Picture 3

"Why do I always get hungry at the tianguis?" (Carlos, dealer)

CDMX, 2013.

These expectations are not the result of a marketing study where the preferences of the potential clientele were calculated and then the tianguistas created and executed an action plan accordingly. They are the result of the observations and adaptations made by the tianguistas in order to set up a street sale. They bring together a series of knowledge about the use of space, hygiene, product presentation, interaction with vendors and internal social organization. Since stalls are usually passed down from father to son or daughter, this knowledge is acquired and inherited over decades of coexistence with vendors.

Picture 4

Assemble the stand

CDMX, 2013. 

At eight o'clock in the morning, the constant whistle of the devils or chargers alerts pedestrians walking in the middle of the traffic of devils (wheelbarrows). Heavy wooden boards on the floor mark the place of each stall. Half-assembled stalls, like skeletons, wait to be dressed. But the tianguistas must take into account the rules imposed by the association itself, the government and the neighbors of each neighborhood: install the awning of the indicated color, have the stall tubes painted in the same color, do not exceed the allotted meters, do not ruin flower boxes or fences of the neighborhood, keep the boxes and other materials tidy in the back of the stall and avoid cables, ropes and obstacles in the aisles, among others.

Picture 5


CDMX, 2013. 

The diableros perform work that requires great physical effort. A diablero can carry up to 100 kilos. They load, unload, assemble and disassemble the tubes of the stand. They can also act as assistants, serving customers and giving "testers" to the vendors. For many migrants, this job is their first entry into the world of work in the CDMX, as the requirements are minimal.

Picture 6


CDMX, 2013. 

The stall owners usually hire employees to help them unload the merchandise and set up every day. The tianguistas who do not have their own cargo truck hire freight drivers who store the merchandise in their truck overnight and deliver it early in the morning to the neighborhood where the tianguis is to be set up.

Picture 7

The tailor of the post

CDMX, 2012. 

Abel, an assistant at the banana stand, resembles a tailor who puts the finishing touches on the stand. A native of Veracruz, he considers his trade to be that of a farmer, but he has developed diverse skills over ten years of handling the stall's structural materials. Abel prepares and adapts the stall for possible weather conditions: clear, rainy or windy. He uses coins that he wraps and ties around the corners of the stall's canopy to get a better grip. He says he likes this work because it awakens his creativity.

Picture 8

The art of banana placement

CDMX, 2012. 

Abel takes the bunches of bananas from the rows he already formed and, with a curved knife, skillfully cuts the top of the stem without splitting the bananas, making the joint look flatter: 

I'm giving them a view. It's more attractive; the bananas look fresher and more appetizing..

Giving a view consists of working on the aesthetic and spatial presentation of the stand and the products that compose it.

Picture 9

The stocking stall

CDMX, 2012. 

A few meters from the banana stand, Olimpia is unpacking the merchandise from her hosiery stand. Her mother inherited it from her. After a hired loader assembles her two-meter stand and places large drums full of clothes, Olimpia arranges the merchandise. As part of give view to her stall, she also often dresses her merchandise, a strategy that has helped her sell.

Picture 10

Giving sight is inherited

CDMX, 2012. 

On the front counter, Olimpia places colorful socks that she has had dyed, because it's cheaper. She stretches them along the corner of the stall, creating a rainbow of nylon. Light filters through the transparent material, highlighting the delicate patterns of the stockings, which are hung like invisible legs. Bundles of stockings portraying several white-skinned blonde women hang at the front of the stall, swaying delicately in the morning breeze. 

From my mother I learned to show my stockings like this. She always told me to hang up my stockings just like this. They look great, don't they? Don't they? Look at them. - Olimpia, tianguista.

Picture 11

Variety in 2 meters

CDMX, 2012. 

The extensive variety of merchandise that Olimpia handles includes more than a hundred different products. After three hours of arranging socks, tights, leggings, tights, stockings, lycra skirts and so on, Olimpia arranges her seat, which consists of a stack of box tops on a storage box, and checks on Galleta, her little French Poodle who is napping very comfortably on a cushion.

Picture 12

Giving a view is innovation

CDMX, 2013. 

During the 1980s, before the Free Trade Agreement, the tianguis were the place where innovations were found. Things that were not allowed to be sold were sold freely in the tianguis. It was a place of novelties. People liked to find something new, even if it was the same thing, but in a different form, for example, curiosities, like jicama. Instead of selling it in a jar, you put a stick to the slice of jicama and it becomes a special popsicle called "jicaleta". That's something innovative and it was sold at the tianguis. Fruit covered with chocolate, things like that. The idea was to look for something attractive, something curious. It was more than just satisfying a desire to consume. - Roberto, tianguista.

Picture 13

Recognition comes through the eyes

CDMX, 2012. 

On Sunday more foreigners arrive and I would imagine that in their countries there are not as many things as here. It is a marvel for them to see our work, because it is not easy to arrive and find everything already shaped, washed, cut, sliced; it is a great task that we do from very early in the morning and they are amazed. And they see it as a treasure that we have. I don't know, maybe, if we had it every day, it became more habitual and maybe you don't value it so much. You see the enthusiasm, the expression on their faces, how they stand with their cameras, film and ask for permission. Many are more observant. They try to see the structures we have to work with, because it is not easy, and they are even more amazed when they go the next day and there is nothing of what they saw the day before.. - Abel, tianguista.

Picture 14

The good trader

CDMX, 2012. 

The tianguis reminds you not to assume that there are no faces on the fruit. Here at the tianguis, you can see that the vendors work for the goods. They share their knowledge about the produce, how it can be eaten. It's a more direct approach, not like in the storefronts. -  Octavio, art dealer.

Picture 15

Oranges with a view

CDMX, 2013. 

Twice a week Roberto, tianguista and representative of Route 8, buys 90 kgs. of oranges in arpilla, as many kilos of Valencia oranges, grapefruit and pineapples.

In Abastos, a higher monetary value is given to oranges that "have eyesight", that is, those that are large in size -and therefore heavier-, uniform in color and without blemishes.

Picture 16

Automatic and manual aesthetic selection

CDMX, 2013. 

At the Central de Abastos, a machine sorts the oranges by size and, via a conveyor belt, sorts them into compartments. Once the oranges have fallen into these compartments, two fruit sorters pick them up and manually select the oranges that have spots or dents.

Some fruits get leaves stuck to them when they are growing and get stained. We take care of this. We select the best ones, and the ugly ones we remove so that the fruit has a better presentation. This is what helps people consume more.- Ángel, worker at the Central de Abastos.

Picture 17

Back at the post

CDMX, 2013. 

Roberto finally arranges the oranges in his stand. These oranges have gone through a selection process that is part of a chain involving the aesthetics of the product. The oranges with the "best look" are given at a more expensive price to the dealer. Roberto also sources oranges for juice, pineapples and grapefruit.

Picture 18

Map of a tianguis stand set up in the vicinity of the Velódromo sports center.

CDMX, 2013. 

These are the basic elements that make up the assembly and presentation of a Ruta 8 citrus stand. Variations tend to occur with respect to the type of products being sold, the neighborhood where the stand is set up, where space may be larger on some streets than on others, and the needs of the vendors. Annexes are more tolerated in Velódromo, where there is much more space than, for example, in La Condesa.

Picture 19

Social control and view

CDMX, 2013. 

Roberto, as a representative of Ruta 8, along with the coordinator of the Markets on Wheels Program and a representative of a neighborhood committee, review the news to measure risks, threats and points for improvement. They set out to carry out the monthly supervision of Ruta 8's facilities in the Condesa neighborhood. The criteria for this supervision focus on the presentation of the stall and the use of the space.

Picture 20

Aisle width

CDMX, 2013. 

Roberto measures the aisle space together with the coordinator. Maintaining an adequate width is important to maintain a comfortable and safe circulation of people. We also check that there are no annexes or extensions of stalls beyond the permitted measurements, to avoid unfair competition among vendors.

Picture 21


CDMX, 2013. 

An annex is any extension of a tianguis stall. Annexes can obstruct the circulation space of the aisle and also invade the space of another trader's stall. Some tianguistas also denounce the invasion of their stalls with annexes of others:

If I don't complain, I get more space tomorrow.. - Tianguista of Route 8.

Picture 22

Inches away from unfair competition

CDMX, 2012. 

Exceeding the spatial limitations of a stall can translate into a problem for tianguistas. The consequences of annexes are often complaints by customers and neighbors to the local government or the media, which contributes to a damaging public image of the tianguis and the suspension of working days for traders by the authorities. 

Picture 23

Walking without burning

CDMX, 2013. 

It is also checked that there are no hot stoves, boxes, electric cables or other objects that could compromise the safety of the marchers. In the image, these indications are directed to merchants of stalls that do not necessarily belong to the Ruta 8 association but that are installed in some neighborhoods together with them. These stalls may be independent or belong to other tianguista associations. However, for Roberto it is important that these stalls abide by the rules, because otherwise "we can all be lumped together".

Picture 24


CDMX, 2013. 

The criteria that are reviewed during an aisle supervision are based on the people who walk the tianguis, especially those with limitations, such as the elderly, children in strollers and people with disabilities.

Picture 25

Taking care of the dealer's space

CDMX, 2012. 

The tianguis plays an important economic and social role in the leisure time of this marchanta and her son. The tianguis, in addition to saving her a long trip to a park or other recreational place, is inexpensive. CMDX residents grow with the tianguis, whether out of necessity or entertainment, and the tianguis grows along with them. Recurring clientele is a tianguista's main income. Therefore, taking care of the stalls and avoiding complaints from neighbors helps to maintain the tianguis economically and socially. But, beyond work, tianguistas have maintained relationships with up to four generations of marchantes, many are close and trusting, and there have even been several cases of marriages between tianguistas and marchantes.

Picture 26

The little test

CDMX, 2013. 

The housewife is suspicious and the salesman redoubles his courtesies. - Carlos Monsiváis (2000, p. 223).

Picture 27

The neighbors

CDMX, 2013. 

In neighborhoods such as La Condesa, the political participation of neighbors through neighborhood committees has forced tianguistas to pay special attention to the aesthetics of their stalls. Complaints in high-class neighborhoods reach the tianguis representative very quickly, and if they are not addressed, the neighborhood committees often take legal action. Roberto thinks that in these areas people get more involved because they have the time to do so, while complaints are infrequent in lower class areas because:

People are too busy working and don't have time to participate. - Roberto, tianguista.  

Picture 28

Cars vs. stalls

CDMX, 2013. 

"Oh no, why didn't you tell me, I didn't know today was tianguis day!" said a young woman to the security guard of the building she was exiting. Next to the young woman's trapped car, vendors who were supposed to be assembling their stall were standing on the pavement next to unpacked packages of the merchandise they were supposed to be selling. One of them commented to the others, "We're losing a good day's work."

Image 29


CDMX, 2013. 

The most flexible thing in the universe is space, there is always room for another person and another and another, and in the Metro, human density is not synonymous with the struggle for life, but rather, the opposite. Success is not about surviving, but about finding space in space. How can two objects not occupy the same place at the same time? 

Carlos Monsiváis (2000, pp. 111-112).

Image 30

Residential rights or right to work?

CDMX, 2013. 

The temporary solution is to install the post around the car. This type of situation causes tension and conflicts with neighbors and sparks discussion about who has more or less right to the street. The tianguistas prioritize the neighbors' right to the street in virtue of their right to work on the established day.

Image 31

The apron, pride at work

CDMX, 2013. 

"You can catch me tired but never without the desire to sell," reads the apron of this helper. It is common to find these types of messages that reinforce the tianguistas' pride in their work.

Articles published in the media and in some government speeches, use words such as "combat" or "attack" together with the words "tianguis" or "informal commerce", "disorder", "garbage" and "dirt". Faced with such public opinions, Victor, tianguista leader, responds:

There are all kinds of people, those who like and those who do not like to go to the tianguis, but if they lack something, they go to the tianguis. Many people used to say: "filthy tianguistas", but it is a filth of work, it is a filth of effort, it is a filth of necessity, it is not a filth of laziness or of sitting down and getting dusty. It is something that, finally, must be respected because the work of a garbage collector is as worthy as that of a tianguista, as of an engineer.

Image 32


CDMX, 2012. 

At the end of the day, diableros, fleteros and vendors meet again to exchange notes and anecdotes of the day while the leaders see to it that no one is left behind and that the garbage is collected. Leaving the street dirty would mean one more complaint to the detriment of the Ruta 8 installation. Sometimes this task can last until ten o'clock at night, as the garbage collectors are often late. In some neighborhoods, Ruta 8, through quotas, hires private garbage collection services because, according to the tianguistas, the public service often does not show up.

Sweet saints: devotions to Cosmas and Damian in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Renata Menezes

is a professor in the Anthropology Department of the National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (ufrj). D. (2004) and M.A. (1996) in Social Anthropology from the Graduate Program in Social Anthropology of the National Museum, ufrj (ppgas/mn/ufrj). Coordinator of the Laboratory of Anthropology of the Playful and the Sacred of the National Museum (Ludens). Researcher at the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico - Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico.cnpq and Faperj's "Cientista do Nosso Estado".

Morena Freitas

is an anthropologist at the Superintendence of the Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage (Instituto del Patrimonio Histórico y Artístico Nacional (iphan) in Sergipe, Brazil. Researcher at the Laboratory of Anthropology of the Playful and the Sacred (Ludens/...).mn/ufrj). D. in Social Anthropology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Lucas Bártolo

D. student at the Graduate Program in Social Anthropology of the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (ppgas/mn/ufrj), Brazil. Researcher at the Laboratory of Anthropology of the Playful and the Sacred (Ludens/...), Master in Social Anthropology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

Virtual exhibition poster Sweet Saints: Devotions to Cosmas and Damian in Rio de Janeiro

Leear Martiniano, 2020

During the months of September and October, Cosme, Damien, Doum and the ibejadas circulate and are exhibited in religious stores.

Thiago Oliveira, 2015. 

Since the beginning of September, the shop windows announce the arrival of the season of saints' sweets. Until October 25, the day of Crispim and Crispiniano, passing through October 12, Children's Day, a festive-religious calendar is established in the city of Rio de Janeiro around the celebration of childhood. In the religious articles stores, the images of Ibejadas, Cosme, Damião and Doum are the most sought after in this period, when the terreiros and churches are used to celebrate children.

Season of sweets in the markets

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

The typical sweets of Cosme y Damián

Thiago Oliveira, 2015. 

White candies, typical candies, sweet pots, traditional candies, industrialized candies, homemade candies... Welcome to the incredible world of candies! Coconut candy, sigh, paçocajujube, lollipop, milk candy, peanuts (pé de moleque) and pumpkin. Many of these sweets only appear on the shelves once a year, in September: they are the typical sweets of Cosme y Damián. 

There are those who like to give more than just candy, mainly toys.

Thiago Oliveira, 2015. 

In celebrations organized by a larger group of devotees - in the street or in neighborhood clubs - or by the community of a terreiroThe toys can be more special, such as bicycles and remote-controlled cars, and recreational activities and games are scheduled throughout the day. Distributions take on a charitable dimension when school supplies, food and clothing are also donated.

The assembly requires the development of a technique, without renouncing affection.

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

The assembly technique is a family apprenticeship, in most cases through the maternal line. 

Thiago Oliveira, 2015, Vaz Lobo.

At home, families usually organize themselves in an assembly line: candies are taken out of the packages and placed on the table, and each person is in charge of putting one or more types in a bag, which is passed from hand to hand until it reaches the person in charge of closing it with a stapler or a ribbon. Ideally, each bag should have the same amount and type of candy as the others, so that no child is harmed. And the saints are watching! But the bags can't be assembled too far in advance because the candy can melt. Once the bags are filled and closed, it's time to separate the ones that will go to the neighbor, the nephew, the work friend's daughter. There are people who have been giving for decades, there are those who are starting now, to greet the arrival of a baby, and there are those who continue practices inherited from their ancestors.

Far beyond the candy, Cosme y Damián's bags also contain promises, family traditions and childhood memories. 

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

The sachet with the effigy of the twin saints is considered the most traditional, whether it is made of paper or plastic.

Lucas Bártolo, 2016.

For many, the saints also participate in the celebration, eating the sweets. Cocadas, suspiros, pumpkin candies, etc. are also offered. Many Cosme y Damián altars contain candies and soft drinks as offerings.

As they are associated with the orixás twins, Cosmas and Damian also eat the food of the gods. In addition to sweets, the saints eat caruru, omolocum, acarajé and chicken. At home or in the terreiros.

Offerings to Cosmas, Damian and Doum in a religious articles store.

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

Offerings to the saints in the Roman Catholic Church

Renata Menezes, 2012.

Offerings to the saints e orixás in a terreiro 

Lucas Bártolo, 2016, Cavalcanti.

The big day is approaching. Tickets and invitations are distributed to avoid crowds and alternate distribution in the neighborhood. Information about the houses that distribute the bags of candy circulates among the children, who begin to draw an affective (and sweet) map of the city.

In groups, led by the eldest or even by an adult, the children leave home early and spend the day roaming the streets, running after candy. The party draws an affective map of the city, delimited by strong or weak candy places, near or far from home, where there are good or bad bags. The bags are distributed at doorways, in squares, in churches and shrines, in schools, daycare centers and orphanages, on foot or by car. Families gather to drink and give sweets. Some like to celebrate the day as if it were the birthday of the twin saints, opening the house and arranging a table with cake, guarana, blancmange and sweets. In small bags or on the tables, the sweets are, on the 27th, food for the saints and the children. The day of Cosme and Damian is a playful experience of the city.

Running after candy: a playful experience of the city

Correio da Manhã/Arquivo Nacional, September 1971. 

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

Early in the morning, the sound of the first sneakers crunching as they race through the streets heralds the start of another day on September 27. It is an extraordinary occasion when the children take on an autonomy that they will probably only really have when they are no longer children. In groups, led by the eldest or even by an adult, the children leave home early in the morning and spend the day running through the streets, or rather, running after candy.

In several neighborhoods of the city, we find patterns of grouping that can be compared to old photos, like the one we see below. There is a pattern that seems to repeat itself, in a movement of children through the streets of the city that sets adults and children in motion.

The party as a moment of anonymous and generous (and sweet) exchange with the unknown. 

Isabela Pillar, 2013.

"I will give the candies at the door to the street children." This is how many devotees answer us when we ask them how they are going to make their feast. Cosme and Damien Day puts the focus on the relationship between the home and the street and puts its boundaries in suspense. It is a moment of anonymous and generous exchange with the unknown.

Among the various ways of giving sweets, the most widespread is the distribution through the door of houses and buildings. The devotees try to organize a queue, giving preference to lap children and pregnant women, but, in general, there is a small commotion in front of the houses. Another very popular modality is that of "throwing the candies forward", throwing them over the wall to the small crowd. Some donors stand out precisely for this practice, throwing not only candy, but also toys and money.

Recap of the day's achievements

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

Lying about their age, not being recognized when they try to get two bags in the same house, knowing where the best bags are, asking for candy in the name of a supposed younger sibling... these are tricks that children use to get the most candy. It's part of the game to get the adults to bend, who warn: It's a bag for everyone! I only give candy to little kids! Anyone who goes out with anyone is no longer a child.

The festival is a playful and religious tradition that consists of a great game

Lucas Bártolo, 2014.

The smiles of the children are, for some, the great reward of the party..

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

Isabela Pillar, 2013.

The smile of the children is, for some, the great reward of the party - if we wanted to talk about the possible interests of giving candy, it would certainly appear as the main desired retribution for the act of giving. But children are not just guests at the party: multiple, diverse, also make it. If with adults children learn to be grateful for the bags earned and also to distribute them, it is in the company of friends that they develop the tricks to take candies, especially to take them more than once in the same house. 

Some people like to celebrate the day as if it were the birthday of the saints, opening the house and organizing a table with cake, guarana, manjar, sweets and many colorful balls. The delicacies can only be offered to the guests after singing happy birthday to Cosme and Damien and serving the seven children gathered around the cake. At these tables, the presence of twins is considered a blessing. From the sequence of photos, it can be seen that many families have been doing this practice for decades.

A domestic celebration to Cosme and Damian

Personal collection of Glória Amaral, 1990 (estimated date).

The birthday of the saints 

Lucas Bártolo, 2014.

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

Novenas, masses, baptisms and processions mark the program of the churches of the different branches of Catholicism (Roman, Orthodox, Coptic) that receive thousands of devotees on September 27, who also distribute candies, toys and food to children and needy people. Many religious traditions have the practice of charity and help as fundamental values and on the day of Cosmas and Damian, the donations made in these spaces are a way of putting these values into practice.

Donation of toys and food at St. George, St. Cosmas and St. Damian's Orthodox Catholic Church

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

Multiform characters, Cosimo and Damian can be presented as Catholic martyrs, physicians, twins, orixás African, child protectors or child entities, among other conceptions about them that also appear combined. They are present in many pantheons, assuming specificities in each of these contexts.

In Brazil, the devotion to the saints was associated with African traditions of twin worship, highlighting the hybridization with the Ibejis, orixás children protectors of twins in the Yoruba tradition. It is from the approach of Cosimo and Damian to Ibeji that their functions were redefined: from protectors of doctors and pharmacists to protectors of children, of double births and of the health of twins. In the Brazilian religious universe, saints were linked to childhood, hence the distribution of sweets to children as a way of celebrating them.

In Catholic churches, the saints may be young or adult, identical or different twins.

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

Ana Ranna, 2013.

The saints are now three. Idowú, younger brother of the Yoruba twins Ibeji, here in Brazil is Doum, brother of Cosme and Damián. 

Thiago Oliveira, 2015

Ibejis, the orixás ninõs of the Yoruba tradition, protectors of ninõs and twins.

Lucas Bártolo, 2015.

The saints are now three. Idowú, younger brother of the Yoruba twins Ibeji, here in Brazil is Doum, brother of Cosme and Damián. 

Thiago Oliveira, 2015

The sacred sweetness of the Children

Morena Freitas, 2016.

The sacred sweetness of the saints, of the ibejadas and of the children is venerated with sighs, cocadas, candies, cakes and guaraná. This sweetness smells, sounds, colors, melts our hands, invades our noses and mouths; and to feel this sweetness is to feel the Children.

Devotion to the saints implies an intense communication that goes through looks, gestures, words and things and involves affection, emotions and desires. Devotion unfolds, therefore, far beyond the bags of candy..

Lucas Bártolo, 2019.

Thiago Oliveira, 2015

The multiple forms that this devotion assumes express the Brazilian cultural diversity. Cosme and Damian in the literature of cordel and carnival.

Thiago Oliveira, 2015.

Lucas Bártolo, 2015.

Hybrid identities: alternative and irruptive identity aesthetics.

Technologies, transnational migration, mass tourism, trade and mediatized communication have generated intense social flows that we call global. From them derives the circulation of cultural goods that, in addition to deterritorializing and reterritorializing traditions, generate exchanges that engender novel hybridizations. Some of them are the result of mixtures of elements from societies that were previously distant and alien. There are different hybrid cultural products represented in "in-between-medium", ambivalent identity aesthetics. Homi Bhabha recognizes as hybrid that (object or subject) which arises from the exchange between two traditions and which generates something different (which is no longer one or the other). Hybrid products are, then, those that arise from the fusion of two or more aesthetic traditions and that make explicit the presence of both referents as allusive components.

Through socio-digital networks, Encartes invited academics, students, visual artists, filmmakers, collectives and photographers to participate in a photographic contest with images that capture objects, subjects, places, landscapes, rituals recreated by the aesthetics of hybridization. We were interested in receiving images showing features that generate hard, unusual, antagonistic, paradoxical or ambivalent mixtures. Hybrid products show the creativity to create alternative identities such as, for example, body marks of youth cultures, recreations of products generated by diasporic strategies of relocalization, emblems of ambivalent national, religious or ethnic identities; cult objects that transgress religious or spiritual traditions; fusion in food, costumes, regional dance choreographies, architecture, crafts, redesign of transgender bodies, and so on.

We received dozens of photographs and an evaluation committee selected the ones that complied and adhered, both in quality and affinity, with the theme of the call on hybrid identities.

By reading the winning photographs as if they were parts of a text, we can recognize that hybridity is transversal. It is present both in traditional contexts, such as religious festivals, in which the selfie accompanies the representation of a Roman centurion during a Staging of the Stations of the Crossas in ancient archaeological sites that today are the site of ceremonies of invented ancestralities (as is the case of Stonehenge), or in different places and urban territories. Hybridity articulates spaces, memories, traditions, representations and actors.

The dances of conquest are currently stagings of memory in which the history of evangelization is kept alive, but they also function as anchors of new representations. This conjugation generates realities, fictionalities and fictions turned reality. A chinelo embodies the traditional Old Man of the dance acting as a being of terror in the Halloween style, without having to give up being guadalupano. The masks are a characteristic element of the baroque tradition, but in the present they not only simulate cultural resistance under the appearance of the assimilation of European faces, but they also place, in the same mask, the symbolization of opposing faces that fight in the Guerrero dance: the chinelo (representation of the white and bearded European conquistador) with the tecuani (the daredevil jaguar). In contrast, tattooing has conquered a new support for the baroque iconic act: the body. In the photograph entitled "When you're not around, I paint!" the body of a woman, presumably Mexican, can be seen, with an enchanted garden tattooed on her body and, between the space of her blouse and skirt, the face of a Thai-style deity can be seen.

Hybridity is first and foremost a glocal phenomenon, energized by global technologies, markets and migratory dynamics, but embodied in bodies rooted in local traditions. Technology through cell phone cameras appears to co-create the images of cultural hybridity by assembling different temporalities that take place in the same performance. The cameras also deterritorialize and resituate practices. In the image taken during the feast of Epiphany in the city of La Paz, Bolivia, shows that the same scene is captured and projected simultaneously by different cameras, whose projection in socio-digital networks deterritorializes the ritual act. Cell phones are also gadgets of catrinas and the deceased that superimpose planes of existence that parody between fantasy and the cultural heritage the Day of the Dead.

Another hybridizing vector present in the photographs is that of migration. In an image recreates St. Nicholas of Bari practicing the yoga posture bhujangasana, printed on the wall of a street in Bari. This photo captures the syncretism between the devotional aesthetics of the Catholic saints and the asanas of Buddhist yoga practice. Immigration is also a generator of surprising hybridizations such as the following the Ganesha-Guadalupewhich inscribes the mother of Mexicans as a deity in a Hindu temple in the border city of Tijuana.

Diaspora is also taken into account in the cultural goods that circulate in the electronic mass media. These are the new producers of imaginaries that are embodied or placed in other landscapes, generating exchanges between fiction and reality. Here we show a traditional cylinder maker in the streets of Mexico City masquerading as an abominable Grinch who hates Christmas, but at the same time disguises himself as Santa Claus, the patron saint of commodified Christmas. On a wall in BoliviaThe graffiti places the fantastic Spiderman -a famous American comic book hero- cleaning the shoes of Chapulín Colorado -a Mexican humor antihero produced by one of Mexico's most famous television networks, Televisa, through Canal de las Estrellas. The creativity in this graffiti generates an image that can be read under the keys of the Latin American imaginary and the discourse of decolonization. For this reason, this photo was chosen for the cover of the magazine. The cultural industries also promote shows and massive sporting events. The soccer World Cup is experienced as national recognition and encourages people to take the public square and to wearing the colors of the uniform with a sculpture of the DavidThe building is a prototype of classical art and Greek beauty, in a place as remote as the city of Montevideo.

Hybridization also generates moral transgressions that operate in the blurring between the private and the public, the religious and the profane. This hybrid landscape is achieved through the photographic exercise of placing sexual diversity in the light of day, of setting up an altar in a popular lingerie store in a traditional city such as San Luis Potosi, where the visual creator of the image saysIt's not fiction, it's not reality. It is a combination: we create realities, accepting what surrounds us".

In sum, the photographs show us that hybridity goes hand in hand with decontextualization and its new creative assemblages capable of transforming meanings. The best example of this can be appreciated in the photo of the burqas put into operation by a collective of feminist women to cover their faces in a March 8th demonstration; in this new political assembly, the burkas, far from signifying female submission, manifest a dissident political expression.

Renée de la Torre Castellanos and Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel


Alejandro Pérez Cervantes. Saltillo, Coahuila, March 2018.

Participating character in the annual representation of the traditional Viacrucis in the Ojo de Agua neighborhood, in the southern periphery of the city of Saltillo, Coahuila, where there are evident syncretisms, crossroads and unusual intersections between tradition and modernity.

Shamanic drifts in the druid temple

Yael Dansac, Stonehenge, United Kingdom, June 21, 2017.

The celebration of the summer solstice at Stonehenge is a multitudinous event that brings together unexpected religious mixes and serves as a showcase for hybrid identities.

The Old Man of the Matachines Dance

Marco Vinicio Morales Muñoz, Ciudad Aldama, Chihuahua, 2018.

The character of the Old Man in the matachines dance in the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Ciudad Aldama, Chihuahua, symbol and representation of evil in popular catholic religiosity.

Mask fusion of the chinelo-tecuani

Sendic Sagal, Tenextepango, municipality of Ayala, Morelos, July 23, 2022.

Aesthetic-festive synthesis of the identity fusion between the symbols of the Chinelo and the Tecuani; dialogue and revitalization between the two main popular traditions in Zapatista lands.


María Belén Aenlle, Feast of the Epiphany in La Paz - Bolivia.

It was taken at the Epiphany Feast in La Paz - Bolivia. Times, cultures, different traditions and two cameras (the girl's family's and mine) converge in the same space and in a smile.

Mortuary postmodernities

Yllich Escamilla, Coyoacan, Mexico City, 02 Nov 2021

The omnipresence of cellular devices generates a passivity of public space performances, which show an ambivalence between Halloween and Day of the Dead.

St. Nicholas of Bari practicing yoga posture bhujangasana

Yael Dansac, Bari, Italy, September 4, 2020.

In the streets of Bari, allusions to the patron saint are omnipresent. Migratory flows and Psalm 103:12 inspired this mural where the Bishop of Myra unites East and West.

Gaṇeśa and Guadalupe. A Mexican goddess in the Hindu universe.

Lucero López, Coyoacán, Mexico City, 02 Nov 2021

Ceremony in honor of the god Gaṇeśa in a Hindu temple, performed by migrants of Indian descent residing in Tijuana. The inclusion of the Virgin of Guadalupe symbolizes, among others, their new life in Mexico.

The Grinch of the Historic Center

Yllich Escamilla Santiago, Historic Center, December 24, 2021.

His name is Juan, he is the pillar that supports his family, he is an organ grinder and resists the inclemencies of life and weather, even the pandemic that hit us three years ago, depending on the season, Juan Organillero is characterized to make his job more striking and earn a few coins.

Two superheroes

Hugo José Suárez, La Paz (Bolivia), 2021

On a wall in La Paz, two opposing heroes are depicted: Chapulín Colorado and Spiderman, Mexico and the United States face each other. But the American superhero shines the Mexican's shoes. The image is intervened by third parties: one paints the Chapulín's nose with red, and another one draws an X with aerosol. From the streets, the roles of international cultural products are reinvented...

Michelangelo's David swelling for Uruguayan Celeste

Carlo Américo Caballero Cárdenas, Montevideo, Uruguay, June 25, 2018.

At the Montevideo City Hall, people flock to the public screening of the 2018 Uruguay-Russia World Cup match, gathered around the life-size replica of the David (made in 1931, there since 1958), which is dressed for the occasion with the national shirt and shorts. The Charrúa soccer identity and the Europeanist architectural-statuary typology of the capital are fused: in such a way that an urban landmark of 18 de Julio Avenue, which emulates the canon of Italian Renaissance aesthetics, is popularized and becomes one more fan among the passion, the clamor, flags and the colors of the oriental team.

Transvestism at the tianguis

Martín Ortiz, Tianguis de las vías, San Luis Potosí, March 2023.

In a city as traditional and religious as San Luis Potosi, the simple act of showing in the light of day the games we privately play with gender and pointing a camera at them, tells the story of a rupture in everyday life. Something deserves to be seen, but what is it?

The neoprovince mixes tradition with novelty. Hostile contexts with characters that exalt them. It is not fiction, it is not reality. It is a combination: we create realities, accepting what surrounds us.

Black Block, Memory and Pandemic

Yllich Escamilla Santiago, Eje Central Tunnel, at the height of Garibaldi, Historic Center, October 2, 2021.

March to commemorate the October 2 massacre. Still in pandemic, the resistors took to the streets, despite the contagion peaks. Supporters of the Black Bloc marched along Eje Central up to Tacuba Street, where they were blocked.

When you are not around, I paint!

Saúl Recinas, Mexico City, July 13, 2023.

The photograph is part of a postdoctoral project on body aesthetics, otherness and stigma configuration, which aims to understand to what extent body aesthetics, mainly related to tattooing, contribute to the crystallization of stigmas and social segregation.

Replica of the image of Santa Muerte in the Noria de San Pantaleón, Sombrerete, Zacatecas

Frida Sánchez, La Noria de San Pantaleón, Sombrerete, October 2017.

This figure is a replica of the image of Death in the town of Noria de San Pantaleón, in the municipality of Sombrerete, Zacatecas. The original image was carved around 1940, however, it was burned because candles were left burning on the altar.

Uses and contradictions of urban infrastructure

All human beings have a spatial dimension. This condition is intimately linked to the collective ways of thinking, feeling and acting in the world; it is for this reason that the public spaces we inhabit and transit as part of everyday life constantly become scenarios in dispute, not only in their territorial but also in their symbolic dimensions. It can be said that the act of intervening in a public space is, in turn, a struggle to win a place in collective thought.


How infrastructure excludes certain bodies and urban practices in everyday uses.

Urban reliefs

Jessica TrejoMexico City, Mexico. July 21, 2022.

Balderas Street in Mexico City, Cuauhtémoc district. 

Urban Palimpsest

Oscar Molina PalestineMexico City, Mexico. March 1, 2020

Near Paseo de la Reforma, on Sundays, antique vendors offer their products at the La Lagunilla flea market. Customers and merchants take the lateral and the bicycle lane as parking, hindering the mobility of cyclists.


Oscar Molina PalestineMexico City, Mexico. January 24, 2021

The investment in Paseo de la Reforma to provide safe mobility routes for cyclists has been great. However, the sidewalks continue to be dangerous terrain for wheelchair users, who prefer to use the deserted bike lanes.

Crosswalk elementary school

Carlos Jesús Martínez LópezZapopan, Jalisco, Mexico. June 21, 2022.

On Antiguo Camino a Tesistan Avenue, not even the warnings and adjustments to the façade of this elementary school can stop the fast pace of the cars.


Miriam Guadalupe Jiménez CabreraGuadalajara, Mexico. November 2015.

Minimal benches

Juan Carlos Rojo CarrascalMazatlan, Mexico. April 23rd, 2021

The sidewalks in Mazatlan are shrinking almost to the point of disappearing, making it difficult for people to walk on them.

Railing or ladder?

Priscilla Alexa Macias MojicaTijuana, Mexico. July 17, 2022.

Residents of a peripheral neighborhood adapted the fence with holes that serve as steps to cross an alley that leads them quickly to the nearby shopping mall.

Road Vulnerabilities

Forms of vulnerability associated with daily traffic, understanding the relationship between bodies, vehicles and roads.

Brazil and the "Future Solutions" projects: Uses and contradictions of the urban structure

Fábio Lopes AlvesCascavel - Paraná, Brazil. July 6, 2020.

The image shows how "future solutions" projects exclude certain people.

Daily vulnerabilities

Fábio Lopes AlvesCascavel - Paraná, Brazil. August 22, 2018.

Image shows a child's willingness to interact with an unknown homeless person

Jumping the puddle

Fernanda Ramirez EspinosaMexico City, Mexico. June 28, 2022.

Photograph taken on the way back from training. We were near the young man's house. It had rained and the roads became steep and difficult to ride on.


Leonardo Mora LomelíMexico City, Mexico. September 14, 2021.

In the daily comings and goings, the pedestrian seems to enter into a game between earning a living and keeping it by crossing the roads. At each step, depending on his skill, he gains points or loses life.

 The rules of the game

Leonardo Mora LomelíMexico City, Mexico. September 14, 2021.

The most complex part of this game of mobility is to know how to avoid the vicissitudes of the urban board: players who do not follow the rules, cars that invade turns, instructions that become inaccessible to the neophyte. Vulnerability is the constant. 

Web of danger

Thania Susana Ochoa ArmentaMexico City, Mexico. March 30, 2022.

In the heart of Mexico City's Historic Center, a spider's web of yellow ribbons warns of the danger of a hole in the ground.

Improvised assistants

Victor Hugo GutierrezMexico City, Mexico. December 2019.

Lupita and her companion's journey through the Pantitlán station of the Metro. There are several stairs and no elevator along the transfer between Line 1 and Line A, which makes the infrastructure inaccessible for people with reduced mobility and people with disabilities. Given the lack of accessibility, the solidarity of users is important for Lupita's displacement. 

Accessible in dry

Laura Paniagua ArguedasMexico City, Mexico. May 13, 2021.

Rain is denied in our cities designed and built "dry". Infrastructures stifle the possibilities of movement for people with disabilities.


Laura Paniagua Arguedas, Cartago, Costa Rica, October 19, 2019.

Cognitive disability presents for the person moments of strong emotions in an enabling world, which generates fears, isolation and discrimination.

Everyday vulnerability

Juan Carlos Rojo CarrascalCuliacán Sinaloa, Mexico. January 23rd, 2009.

This is how children have to cross the street to go to school. Even holding their mother's hand, they run the risk every day to attend a public elementary school in Culiacán.


Hugo Jose SuarezLa Paz, Bolivia. February 2021.

Faced with an increase in robberies and the inefficiency of the authorities, neighbors are turning to their own law.


Interventions by people with respect to public or vehicular infrastructure, in order to better adapt the practices and services performed or to meet other needs.


Reyna Lizeth Hernández Millán, Mexico City, Mexico. March 06, 2022.

At the edge of the periphery, a swing is located at the foot of the railroad tracks.

The king of sound

Reyna Lizeth Hernández Millán, Mexico City, Mexico. November 28, 2021.

In the San Juan market, the statue of a lion watches over the local merchants.


Eduardo Lucio García MendozaOaxaca, Mexico. July 31, 2022.

The young man spinning is a parkour practitioner in Oaxaca, he adapts to the space where he is practicing.

Sneaky reviews

Critical look of passersby on public space, from graffiti, stencils, stickers, always considering that the message is directed to the practice of transit.

Unity is strength

 Frances Paola GarnicaSan Luis Potosi, Mexico. July 2022.

Faced with the threat of the removal of 867 trees, neighbors and activists spoke out against the project, informing about the benefits of the trees.

The Border Wall in Tijuana. Photographic Prints of the Art Oblations/Interventions in Memory of the Dead Migrants 1999-2021

Guillermo Alonso Meneses

El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, Mexico.


Guillermo Alonso Meneses, Playas de Tijuana, 1999, autumn.

The images belong to a film (slide) and printed photos, later scanned, obtained with a Minolta DYNAX 500 si Reflex analog camera, with a 28-80 AF Zoom. They correspond to one of the first artistic interventions on the wall in Playas de Tijuana that was made on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the launching of Operation Gatekeeper/Guardian 1994-1999. The installation took place at the end of October. Large letters were placed on a wooden stand, with the legend "alto a guardián" in capital letters. Inside each letter were drawn dozens of calaca skulls; the calaca or skull emerges as an important iconographic and symbolic element. And separately, to the right, several wooden panels painted in white were installed with the names, origin and age -or else, the legend "unidentified"- of 473 migrants who had died in those first 5 years. The installation with the names was reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., where the names of thousands of Vietnam War dead and other Southeast Asian conflicts are inscribed on a black granite wall. As so often before, only the names of the victims and their powerful memory remain on public display.

Guillermo Alonso Meneses, bulevar airport, 2000 and 2004.

This image was taken with a Kodak cx7430 digital camera on May 29, 2004. In the Via Crucis of the year 2000, where the airport road turns before reaching Colonia Libertad, an installation was made with a central cross where a figure made with pants and shirt represented a crucified migrant. On both sides there are three smaller white crosses with the years 1995 to 2000 and at the bottom the number of migrants killed each year at the border guarded by the Guardián operation. The wall is the original, painted in red; and although it cannot be seen in its entirety, below the installation was painted the legend: "how many more?"


Guillermo Alonso Meneses, Airport Blvd., 2003.

Another installation in the same area, halfway between Colonia Libertad and the main airport building, next to the highway, was made by Baja California artist Alberto Caro. At the end of October 2003 he installed nine coffins painted with different colors and motifs, on each one he painted the year, the number of victims and vertically: "deaths". Later he added a tenth coffin with the legend written in black: "how many more?" And in 2004, on top of this last one, three white signs were placed with the year 2004, the number of deceased, which was 373, and in vertical: "deaths". The installation of coffins is an iconographic singularity, it represents the death of migrants, and the statistics reflect the rescued and identified victims who are those who achieve a dignified burial. Its visual impact is greater because of its evident symbolism, by factually linking the wall with death and turning it into a necro-artefact of an opprobrious necro-politics (necro-politics in the descriptive sense; not in the sense of the analytical category proposed by Mbembe). Taken with Kodak cx7430 digital camera on May 29, 2004.

Guillermo Alonso MenesesThe crossroads next to the boulevard or road to the Tijuana airport and on the descent to Colonia Libertad., 2003 a 2004.

Crosses, a Roman instrument of torture and execution widespread in the Latin world of antiquity and re-signified in Christianity as a symbol of Christ [versalitas]inri[/versalitas], a sacred symbol of redemption and forgiveness, were placed on the border wall to remember/denounce the deaths of migrants. "When someone dies, their family brings a cross with their name on it to their grave" (Smith). Also because two of the original celebrations were the Christmas posadas (the pregnant Virgin Mary and St. Joseph as migrants) and the Stations of the Cross of Catholic Holy Week. Since at least 1997 there has been an annual count, for each death counted a white cross was placed with information of someone identified or else, with the legend "unidentified". The detail of the cross has the name and age of a young victim and a postcard with the main motif of the 2003 Playas poster. Obtained with Kodak cx7430 digital camera, May 2004.

Sore and necro-expositor installation

Guillermo Alonso Meneses, airport boulevard and the limits of Colonia Libertad, respectively., 2004.

In 2004, in addition to placing a hundred white crosses on the airport boulevard, Michael Schnorr and other BAW/TAF members painted on four planks, which were anchored to the border wall at intervals and in the spaces of separation, the representation of a bleeding wound with a meaningful phrase: "The border... an open wound. Gloria Anzaldúa had written: "The U.S.-Mexican border is an open wound where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms, it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country -a border culture" (1987: 25). The necro-exhibitor, as a display case and reliquary of mortal remains, consists of a piece of furniture where there are still some wilted and dried marigold flowers (the photo is from several days after the Day of the Dead in 2004). Behind, as a scenographic background, a huge marigold flower in the center of which, as a stanza of a skull: "unidentified... by their government forgotten". On the ground to the left of the image you can see the 2004 sign that reads: "Guardian here began... ten years later, 3000 deaths achieved". On the cross above, a wilted flower from the last celebration and a postcard with the main motif of the 2004 Playas poster. This installation was made in the same place where years ago was the cross with the crucified migrant. Taken with Kodak cx7430 digital camera, May 2004.

Guillermo Alonso MenesesPlayas de Tijuana, 2004.

A significant date was 2004, the 10th anniversary of the Border Patrol's Operation Border Patrol Guardian on October 1, during which time there were an estimated 3,000 victims. The commemorative art installation consisted of three canvases (4.2 meters long by 2.5 meters high) and a wooden plank of "triplay" (2.5 meters long by 2.5 meters high), anchored to the wall, showing a calaca sitting in a desert landscape at the foot of a saguaro tree holding two empty gallons symbolizing death by dehydration and heat in the deserts. On the complementary tarpaulins was written the skull "Guardian... here it began. Ten years later, 3000 dead achieved." The installation was painted by Todd Stands and Susan Yamagata, and funded by CRLAF directed by Claudia Smith and the Coalición Pro Defensa del Migrante. The emblematic elements of the iconography are the calaca (a half-body skeleton) and the empty water gallon symbolizing thirst and death by dehydration in the desert. Augé noted: "Memories are molded by oblivion as the sea molds the contours of the shore" (1998:12). The images also show how the steel wall, after more than a decade, was crumbling due to the corrosive power of the saltpeter from the sea, pulverizing the steel into rust. Another metaphor of the memory/forgetfulness dialectic. Taken with Kodak cx7430 digital camera, May 2004.

11 years of Guardian and altar

Guillermo Alonso MenesesPlayas de Tijuana, 2005.

The photographs were taken with a Kodak cx7430 digital camera, October/November 2005. That year the installation of synthetic tarps with printed photos and names commemorating eleven years of Border Patrol operations in the region, and the altar of that year placed against the fence on the sand of the beach stand out. The cempasúchil, braceros to burn copal, candy calacas and candles stand out. Behind a painting with the theme of the desert that ironically shows the presence of civilian vigilantes among the "dead". The year 2005 was the year of the migrant-hunting movement called Minuteman. The wall that can be seen, irregular and imperfect, was built to replace the original one. Months later it was rebuilt.

Border gates

Guillermo Alonso MenesesPlayas de Tijuana, 2005.

In 2005, the installation of three paintings with three gates used for the "Posada del Migrante" (Migrant's Posada) on the renovated fence of Playas, next to the lighthouse, stands out. After that celebration they were taken to the beach, near the lighthouse. Two doors are closed, symbolizing the effects of the wall and surveillance, the third is open, but opens onto the lethal deserts of the border; quite a death trap. Each painting is 2.5 meters long by 1 meter wide. The authors were Todd Stands and Susan Yamagata. Funded by CRLAF and the Coalición Pro Defensa del Migrante. The photograph was taken with a Kodak cx7430 digital camera.

Protest against the Minuteman

Guillermo Alonso Meneses, Playas de Tijuana, 2005.

In the spring of 2005, a demonstration was held in the United States against the MinutemenThey had nothing to do with the pro-migrant organizations in Tijuana. The place is the Parque de la Amistad/Frienship Park of binational character since 1971, where the border cairn is located. The paper crosses are a remembrance of the fallen migrants. On a poster board someone painted: "Make Friends, No Fences". As the days passed the wind left no trace. Another day someone hung a synthetic banner with the slogan "No al muro de la muerte/ No Border Wall". Taken with a Kodak cx7430 digital camera, May 2005.

Day of the Dead

Guillermo Alonso MenesesPlayas de Tijuana, 2007.

In 2007 an installation was made in wood, but a windstorm in Santana disbanded it a few days later. The three-dimensional work was constructed in wood and later painted with skulls or calacas with names on their foreheads, representing the more than 400 migrants who died so far this year. It was a collective work made by students of the Border Arts Workshop at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, San Diego, an institution to which Schnorr was linked.

The iconography was formed from calacas that have something of skulls of a "Tzompantli" and the "Catrina", the latter with an aesthetic that goes from José Guadalupe Posada to Diego Rivera, gave a twist. But although these manifestations have genuinely American roots that can be traced back to before 1492 or to Mexico in the 19th and 20th centuries, the fact is that the cult of the dead or the religious and profane symbolization of skulls is ancient. Belting tells us that the so-called Jericho skulls discovered more than 4000 years ago, which were covered with a layer of lime and then painted, are images of death, however much they are painted (Belting, 2007: 181). These calacas, however, intertwine the image of death with the life of memory. Obtained with a Casio EXP600 digital camera.


Guillermo Alonso Meneses, Playas de Tijuana, October/November 2009.

One of the most ambitious, impactful and significant artistic interventions was the 2009 Day of the Dead installation, on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of Operation Guardian. The Coalición Pro Defensa del Migrante and CRLAF promoted Susan Yamagata and Michael Schnorr's proposal to build, paint and place 5100 white crosses, one for each of the deaths of migrants crossing the border in the period 1994-2009. The crosses were placed on the Day of the Dead on part of the wall in front of the lighthouse along a length of almost 50 meters, and on one side the skull written on a board with a frame of fresh cempasúchil flowers: "In fifteen years of Guardian, more than 5,100 dead are going". At the top were still the desert gates of 2005. The art installations were not only an annual ritual, intertwined as they were with the annual calendar of Catholic celebrations, but also had something of a Miccantlamanalli (offerings of the dead). Obtained with a Panasonic DMC-TZ4 digital camera.

Canadian street artist

Guillermo Alonso MenesesPlayas de Tijuana, 2010.

In December 2010 the entire fence of Playas de Tijuana at the height of the lighthouse was replaced; it was a clean slate. The place was unrecognizable and the artistic interventions that coexisted weeks before were destroyed. The first intervention on the current wall was made by a Canadian artist. The subject is a caution road sign found at the beginning of the freeways south of San Diego; it represents three members of a family crossing a highway. The technique used is that of the "stencil" or stencil. Obtained with a Pentax Reflex k-r digital camera and an AF 18-200 mm telephoto lens.

Guillermo Alonso Meneses, Playas de Tijuana, October/November 2010.

In 2010 Susan Yamagata's commemorative painting caricatures Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his harsh and undignified treatment of captured migrants. It coincides in space with the mural Border Angels, A Desert Door from 2005 and the crosses from 2009. Some days they put up calacas of approximately two meters. A juxtaposition of elements began to take place, announcing the struggle for space that took place later and that saturated the wall in 2021. Something that usually happens in street art in privileged and disputed spaces. Obtained with a Pentax Reflex k-r digital camera and an AF 18-200 mm telephoto lens.


Guillermo Alonso MenesesPlayas de Tijuana, 2010.

In 2010, a graffiti entitled Border Angels [Boder Angels is a US pro-migrant organization], with stylized human figures painted in white and with a red cross inside, stands out. The whole is reminiscent of the iconography and strokes of New York street artist Keith Haring. The work has the slogan: "Not one more death!. Reform Now!" It was signed by P. Breu. At that time the space was not contested by other artists or activists and the works could coexist in the space without being totally juxtaposed. Taken with a Panasonic DMC-TZ4 digital camera.

Guillermo Alonso Meneses, Playas de Tijuana, 2012.

In 2012 it can be said that it was the last great artistic installation of these collectives that fight for the defense and memory of migrants, for the Day of the Dead. The new fence had not yet succumbed under the paint of those who fight for the space to print their mark. The place chosen was in front of the lighthouse, near the international boundary marker. A giant calaca and 18 skulls were installed, from 1995 to 2012, and at their feet a small altar with offerings. As well as a sign with the legend: "Guardian... here it began. 18 years later, 5,800 deaths achieved". It was 18 years with the Guardián operation; more than 18 years of struggle. Sponsored by the Coalición Pro Defensa del Migrante, the installation was created by San Diego artists Susan Yamagata and Todd Stands. The installation arguably marked the culmination of an era; Michael Schnorr had passed away that same year. Taken with a Panasonic DMC-TZ4 digital camera.

Veteran deportees. Other claims and commemorations.

Guillermo Alonso MenesesPlayas de Tijuana, February 2013.

Deportations began to increase in Bill Clinton's second term and increased in the Bush Jr. and Obama terms. In the summer of 2013, deported military veterans joined together and painted a mural next to the Parque de la Amistad/Friendship Park, next to the lighthouse, in Playas de Tijuana. It was born in remembrance of deported veterans, some of whom had passed away without being able to return to the US. Its presence and boom coincides with a period in which the traditional installations for dead migrants decline. Obtained with a Pentax Reflex k-r digital camera and an AF 18-200 mm telephoto lens.

Deportees 2019 restoring the mural, before and after.

Guillermo Alonso Meneses, Playas de Tijuana, February 2022.

Six years after the first intervention of the deported veterans on the fence in Playas de Tijuana, the deterioration of both the paint and the metal was already evident. It was also evident that the surface of the wall in that place was saturated with graffiti and interventions of all kinds. The images show its restoration. After two decades, with different changes that transformed it materially, the place was no longer a lonely and abandoned corner where a few times a year the dead migrants were commemorated. It had metamorphosed into an iconic place. Taken with a Panasonic DMC-TZ4 digital camera.

The wall as a tourist site

Guillermo Alonso Meneses, 2019.

The process of metamorphosis that the wall underwent in Playas de Tijuana and that turned it into an iconic scenery, soon began to attract local, national, U.S. and other tourists from other latitudes such as China. The wall underwent remodeling and reconstruction. It can be said that there is no longer space for the artistic interventions of years ago to manifest themselves alone. Belting's remark was fulfilled, there are places that become photographic places (2007: 268). From its beginnings, the wall attracted looks beyond those of activists, artists and passers-by, it became normalized as an object-place that attracts photographic cameras and those who look behind them. This had already happened with the Berlin Wall. Taken with a Panasonic DMC-TZ4 digital camera.

Guillermo Alonso Meneses, the wall on the boulevard near the airport, 2021, and Playas de Tijuana, 2022.

In recent years, the wall both in Playas de Tijuana and on the boulevard that runs parallel to the airport has undergone major changes. No one would recognize the stretches where crosses, artistic interventions and graffiti remembering dead migrants and other injustices used to hang. The same happens on the wall in Playas de Tijuana in the stretch of several hundred meters from the ocean. Photo 73 shows the saturation of interventions, photo 74 contrasts with the first photo of this essay, photo 75 shows a migrant jumping over the wall with a metal ladder. After 30 years the wall is still being jumped. The effort and work of activists, artists and organizations that for decades fought against oblivion evaporated. Soon only photographs will remain. Taken with an Iphone SE and a Panasonic DMC-TZ4 digital camera.

Bazaar Economy on the Puente del Papa (Pope’s Bridge). Monterrey

Efrén Sandoval Hernández

Efrén Sandoval Hernández is a research professor at the Northeastern Headquarters of the ciesas (Monterrey). He is a member of the National System of Researchers level 1. His work deals with "border economies" in the region of northeastern Mexico and South Texas. His most recent publication is (2020) "Winning 'clients' and managing favors. Union delegates in Monterrey tianguis", Sociological studies, 40 (118). In 2019 he coordinated (together with Martin Rosenfeld and Michel Peraldi) the book. The northern or southern hemisphere. Global production, cross-border trade and informal markets of used clothing. (Paris: Éditions Pétra / imera / ehess). He has been a professor in different national institutions, and has received funding for his research from national and international institutions.

orcid: 0000-0002-2706-9388

Photo 1

In the absence of an umbrella canopy

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

This merchant combines the sale of tools, installed on a tarpaulin, with used shoes for men and women, pirate records and costume jewelry, the latter on a folding table. The figure of a virgin is also part of the objects for sale. In the background, several of the emblematic buildings of downtown Monterrey. Below, the busy Morones Prieto Avenue.

Photo 2

For lack of awning a piece of tarpaulin

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

The strong August heat did not prevent this elderly man from settling in that Saturday. On the bridge, shade is a scarce resource that must be obtained and preserved throughout the day. This particular merchant also sought shade for his merchandise (pieces, spare parts, used tools), as if they were delicate or luxury items.

Photo 3

A little piece of shadow

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

The three men on the left take advantage of the shadow of one of the suspenders on the Pope Bridge. The photo was taken in the morning. In the afternoon, the installation would be done at the other end, depending on the shadow coming from the west. Meanwhile, a couple walks on the bridge. The merchants have cleared the way for pedestrians, as if respecting the municipal regulations.

Photo 4

Exhibition of goods on diablito and fabric

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

Loose cigarettes, lighters, alkaline batteries, chewing gum, candy and used tools. Everything fits in a backpack and a box. When the sale day is over, the box containing the goods will be covered with a piece of sponge, a cloth, and tied with a rope. Wandering, setting up and taking down, appearing and disappearing, are part of the routine of these eternally intermittent merchants.

Photo 5

Exhibition of goods on the Pope's Bridge

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

Several of the merchants stock up on trinkets in the very center of the city. To do so, they go to the commercial area of Colegio Civil, where they stock up on "chácharas" with the wholesalers who in turn stock up on merchandise in Tepito and the Sonora market (Mexico City). Normally, these cheap, disposable and leftover goods were manufactured in China or some other Asian country, traveled by ship to Manzanillo, were distributed in Mexico City and from there moved to Monterrey.

Photo 6


Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

Recovered objects (including feathers), finds (a connector) and "opportunities" (a "found" watch), abound on the Pope's bridge. In some cases, like this one, the seller doesn't necessarily know what some of the objects for sale are for; or doesn't know if they still work.

Photo 7

Diablito, merchandise and hotelazo

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

In the background, the downtown hotel zone; the Acero building (Monterrey's first "skyscraper"); and the Liverpool department store. While there are few passersby on the bridge, traffic is heavy on Constitución Avenue, one of the most important avenues in the capital of Nuevo León. The land under the bridge is the bed of the Santa Catarina River.

Photo 8

Diablito, bridge and sphere

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

A sphere-shaped building is part of the Pavilion M complex. The man who set up his stall here told us that he did not know what was (or would be) inside this "ball". It actually houses an auditorium that, according to its promoters, has the best acoustic installation in the city. Most likely, the value of all the merchandise that this merchant was offering that day would not be enough to pay for a ticket to any of the shows that are presented in that auditorium.

Photo 9


Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

One person stopped to look at the merchandise in this place. He is a resident of Colonia Independencia, Monterrey's most emblematic neighborhood, located at the south end of the Pope Bridge. He told us he had not yet visited Pabellón M., his new neighbor on the other side of the bridge.

Photo 10

The global city and the city from below

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

It was difficult to take this picture. We had to crawl on the ground to get it. There is a lot of distance between the height of the building and the ground where the bazaar economy takes place.

Photo 11


Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

As the morning progresses, more people pass by. Some of the curious come from other social and geographic sectors of the city. Many are regular visitors.

Photo 12

Single commodities

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

Almost everything here has a flaw. Many things don't work and some things may. The variety is infinite. It's difficult to establish extremes: from a (kitchen) pot holder to the cover of a car stereo, from a telephone to a cervical corallin, used.

Photo 13

Wonderful articles

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

One of these plastic boxes was mine. In it I once brought jewelry to offer in exchange for a few pesos. After evaluating what I had brought, the merchant bought the "lot" from me for $50. I later learned that the boxes are sold separately because they serve as showcases in the bazaar's economy.

Photo 14

A form of order

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

Several merchants in this sector are accustomed to rummaging through the garbage in the "rich neighborhoods". There they find many of the objects they sell. Most of these cables, connectors and video game controllers come from there, they had been discarded and here they have found a second life, they have recovered their quality of merchandise, hoping one day to be objects of use again.

Photo 15

Parallel order

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

The trade in used and discarded goods also serves to prolong the activity within a trade. Some traders have been factory workers or have worked in highly specialized trades, and use their knowledge to repair and even assemble tools. They are true specialists who are called upon to repair a device and thus escape from the consumption of tools that "no longer last as long as they used to".

Photo 16

Beta and vhs

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

One day I understood that the trader who sells this is not used to watch TV or movies, he does not usually talk on the phone and only listens to the music around him. He doesn't need anything of what he sells.

Photo 17

From one market to another

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

Several merchants in and around the Pope Bridge visit some other markets in search of bargains. Shoes are usually a good find in that regard. One merchant explained to me that, in other neighborhoods, there are many people who work with "the rich families". They give them things as gifts and then sell them at the tianguis in their neighborhood, but since they are not merchants, they don't know how to sell them at a good price, so what had one price there, has another here. Shoes are some of the few items that people tend to spend a little more money on around the Pope's bridge.

Photo 18


Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

I had a hard time getting to talk to him. He is a man of few words, but kind. He spends all day at his place of business. Several fellow vendors have passed away over the years, but he is still there, always there, sitting on a bucket, on an old rocking chair, on a bench improvised with a plank. I haven't been able to figure out when he started rummaging through the garbage to get what he sells.

Photo 19

Analog readout

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

 Cars often speed by on Morones Prieto Avenue. The noise is quite a lot. It is hard to think about concentrating on reading, but this is what this man who repairs tools and sells a little bit of everything does. In the background, above, the Pope's bridge.

Photo 20

To be someone

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

With "el profe" I talked about music, literature, history and politics. He loves to talk about the history of the Independencia neighborhood, which houses these stores and where he grew up. I never saw anyone buy a book from him, I always thought this was more like his personal library.

Photo 21

Like new

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

At the sale in the area around the Pope's bridge, the order is rather strange. More than the good condition of everything that is sold here, which in itself is exceptional, I was struck by the pretension of order with which the seller installed the goods.

Photo 22

All for sale

Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

Occasionally, individuals come to this place offering goods for the merchants. These, stealthy, not only evaluate the goods but also the person who brings them. This is because, sometimes, it is a trap. The deception is not in the illegal origin of the goods, but in the complicity of the police. The merchants explained to me that after buying merchandise from someone who suddenly arrives to offer it, they usually receive a visit from police officers who arrive to investigate the supposed theft of those items. They do not arrive there thanks to their efficient investigations, nor do they come to arrest the person who bought the stolen merchandise, but rather it is an extortion under the threat of taking the person who bought the stolen merchandise into custody, in an action of obvious collusion with the person who came to offer the goods.

Photo 23


Iván E. García. Monterrey, N.L., 2016.

Ricardo, the merchant who sells this, has a degree in public accounting. Skilled in commerce, he has gone from selling VHS movies to selling cell phones and now knives. This display case has served him for years, and he transports it with great care. He is one of the few merchants who offers his merchandise in a display case. He explained to me that if the goods are on the floor, they have one price, if they are on a table, they have another, but if they are in a display case, the customer understands that he is buying a better quality item.

Dissident performative interventions in public spaces.

All human beings have a spatial dimension. This condition is intimately linked to our collective ways of thinking, feeling and acting in the world; it is for this reason that the public spaces we inhabit and transit as part of our daily lives constantly become scenarios in dispute, not only in their territorial dimensions, but also in their symbolic ones. We can well say that the act of intervening a public space is, in turn, a struggle to win a place in the collective thought.

The selection of photographs shown here exemplifies the way in which diverse civil society actors reclaim public space through physical and symbolic interventions that represent dissidence against the established order of modern societies. The tactics employed are multiple and range from graffiti and the painting of murals, to the use of technology to project messages on walls, the representation of the body and the installation of objects in places reappropriated from symbols.

The interventions shown here transform spaces of power into dissident spaces, in some cases in a fleeting manner, such as the intervention with an audiovisual projector at the National Palace in Mexico City; in others, reconfiguring institutionalized uses and meanings in a transcendental way, as in the case of the Glorieta de las y los desaparecidos in Guadalajara. Some other interventions become dissident traces that travel through the city, such as the feminist stencil on a public transportation vehicle, while some become memorials that remain in the streets, emphasizing the need for justice. In any case, such interventions convey the neglected claims of usually stigmatized minorities or invisible groups demanding rights.

Creatively, these actions tend to deconstruct the hegemonic signs of different public spaces, official emblems, buildings that symbolize the power of government forces, and colonial monuments. The images shown below are a brief reminder that, in the face of injustice, inequality and subjugation, social groups will always have symbolic resources to occupy a place in that spatial condition that is inescapable for us.

We dedicate this gallery in memory of Rogelio Marcial†, magazine collaborator.

Walls speak

Sofia Ron Weigand, Santiago, Chile. November 2019.

Interventions in Santiago de Chile in the 2019 "social outburst" protests.

Mother praying for her daughters

Cristofer Yair Uribe VergaraMexico City, Mexico. September 18, 2000.

Photo taken outside the CNDH on República de Cuba street, Colonia Centro.

Vigil for Victoria from Tijuana

Benelli Velázquez FernándezTijuana, Mexico. April 2, 2021.

Victoria Salazar, a woman refugee in Mexico from El Salvador, was murdered by members of the Tulum police in March 2021. After her murder, there were demonstrations by feminist collectives and migrant rights activists, who demanded justice from various points of the Mexican Republic. A vigil was held at the border wall in Playas de Tijuana to commemorate Victoria's life and dignity. During the event, Victoria's face was projected on the obelisk that delimits the border between Mexico and the United States.

Pink bike for Isabel

Favia Lineli Lucero MontoyaCiudad Juarez, Mexico. January 31, 2020.

Cycling and feminist collectives placed a pink bicycle at the site where Isabel Cabanillas, artist and activist, was murdered during the early hours of January 18, 2020. Isabel used as a means of transportation a bicycle similar to the one installed; on the day of her feminicide she was being transported on it.

Death to the male

Karen Muro ArechigaMexico City, Mexico. February 2020.

Outside of some classrooms in the unam signs and banners were put up with legends addressing illegal and free abortion. One reads that the unam does not protect women, but represses them.

Respect for the uterus of others...

Adrian Enrique Garcia MendozaEnsenada, Mexico. September 30, 2020.

Intervention made during the 2020 feminist march in the Plaza de las tres cabezas.

Genocida: neither forgiven nor forgotten!

Yllich Escamilla SantiagoMexico City, Mexico. June 10, 2021.

In the framework of the 50th anniversary of the massacre of June 10, 1971, also known as Halconazo, the house of former President Luis Echeverría was part of the protest to demand justice.

Flowers against oblivion

Thania Susana Ochoa ArmentaMexico City, Mexico. March 8, 2021.

As part of the International Women's Day march, the National Palace was covered with metal fences. In response, feminists created a memorial for victims of femicide.

"Fora Bolsonaro"

Marcia CabreiraSão Paulo, Brazil. July 3, 2021.

Bolsonaro and other politicians of his government represented as convicts in the march for Bolsonaro's impeachment. The broken syringe represents the alleged corrupt practices of the government in the purchase of vaccines against the covid-19.

We are all immigrants

Ana de la CuevaNew York, USA. January 2017.

Women's March in New York, part of the women's rights movement and protests against Donald Trump. It was the largest protest since the mobilization against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s.

Do not forget their names

Jessica Trejo GomezMexico City, Mexico. March 2021.

Intervention at the National Palace, venue of the Generation of Equality Forum, to make the names and lives of women visible to the federal government.

The human rights of women over the rights to culture

Leonardo Rebollar RuelasColima, Mexico. August 16, 2021.

In the center of Colima is located the rehabilitation of a building formerly used as the state government palace. During the 8M protests, a protective wall was erected to demand women's human rights in the face of femicides and cases of disappearances. 

Deported artists presenting the Playas de Tijuana Mural Project

Juan Antonio del Monte MadrigalTijuana, Mexico. July 2021.

Deported artists (Chris Cuauhtli, Tania Mendoza, Javier Salazar and José Ávila), coordinated by artist-academic Liz Santana, offer a speech in Tijuana after painting on the border wall their faces and QR codes with their deportation stories as a form of visibilization and resistance against the hardening of immigration policies.


Malely Linares SánchezMexico City, Mexico. March 8, 2019.

Symbolic act in the march #8M.

Madero under siege

Yllich Escamilla SantiagoMexico City, Mexico. August 1, 2020.

The government of Mexico City locked up the statue of Francisco I. Madero, by Javier Marín, preventing it from being used in feminist protests against gender violence.

Memory clothesline

Reyna Lizeth Hernández MillánNezahualcoyotl, Mexico. March 8, 2020.

The collective Vivas en la Memoria installed and marched with a clothesline of embroidered canvases, where the feminicides of localities of the periphery such as Neza, Ecatepec, Chimalhuacán were recorded.

Traffic circle of the missing and the disappeared

Santiago Bastos, Guadalajara, Mexico. May 5, 2018.

The Glorieta de Niños Héroes in Guadalajara is located at the end of the busy Paseo de Chapultepec. When the disappearances began to be an overwhelming issue for many families in Jalisco, this traffic circle was one of the places chosen to end marches and hold rallies. The base of the monument to the motherland was continuously filled with posters, until in 2018 the one you see in the photograph appeared. Since then, that is the Glorieta de las y los Desaparecidos, to all intents and purposes.

Monumenta intervened

Malely Linares SánchezMexico City, Mexico. March 8, 2019.

Symbolic act at the #8M March

We want to be free; free and without fear

Priscilla Alexa Macias MojicaTijuana, Mexico. August 08, 2021.

Women in defense of the right to decide gather at Mexico's "Las Tijeras" monument to commemorate the arrival of the green tide in Mexico.

Images of the Conquest in Tlacoachistlahuaca, Guerrero

Carlo Bonfiglioli

Carlo Bonfiglioli He completed his undergraduate studies at the National School of Anthropology and History (1993) and his master's degree (1995) and doctorate at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (1998). He is the author of two individual books -Pharisees and Matachines in Sierra Tarahumara, 1995 y Cuauhtémoc's epic in Tlacoachistlahuaca2004-, coordinator of six collective books -Conquest dances in contemporary Mexico (1996); The Northwest routesvol. 1 (2008), vol. 2 (2008), vol. 3 (2011); Reflexivity and otherness. Case studies in Mexico and Brazil1 (2019) and vol. 2 (in process) - and author of more than 50 scientific articles. He has taught several courses and directed theses at the Graduate School of Anthropology and Mesoamerican Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. unam. He has coordinated two interinstitutional and interdisciplinary projects: the first on a systemic perspective of Northwest Mexico and the second on American indigenous ontologies. His current field of research points to a "Rarámuri theory of shamanism". He has twice received the Bernardino Sahagún Award (1994 and 1999).

orcid: 0000-0001-7797-6181

photo 1

Bob SchalkwijkTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 1994.

The author of this essay with don Pedro Ignacio Feliciano (†), a rocket maker, principal ("tatamandón"), "man of taste" and a great connoisseur of local indigenous customs. Throughout the 5 years that the research lasted, he was one of the main interlocutors and transmitters of knowledge about the dance that is the subject of this essay.

photo 2

Carlo BonfiglioliAcatepec, Gro. November 1995.

Don Pedro Ignacio Feliciano and Don Bartolo recalling and reconstructing the spread of the Danza de la Conquista from the plains to the mountains.

photo 3

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. November 1994.

Don Gildardo (Lalo) Díaz, bricklayer, musician, dancer and first dance teacher in Tlacoachistlahuaca. For three decades, Don Lalo was one of the main protagonists in the diffusion of the Danza de la Conquista in the Montaña region.

photo 4

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

The Dance of the Conquest of Mexico is performed on December 7 and 8, the eve and feast day of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of the town. With the participation of the dancers, the statuette of the Virgin is offered flowers, prayed to and watched over until dawn. In the photo, a prayer dancer and two companions.

photo 5

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

At the beginning of the night, a small group of people, accompanied by a couple of musicians and a cantor who intones some sacred songs, goes to the church to request the delivery of the crown and the statuette of the Virgin; eas the family of the butler. In the photo, Zenaida de Grandeño, steward of the Octave, carries the image of the Immaculate Conception on the Vigil day of her feast.

photo 6

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 6, 1994.

In the days prior to the feast, the dancers visit and dance in the patios of the homes of the faithful where the vigil will be held for the statuette, the crown of the Virgin or those who will offer flowers and candles for her feast.

photo 7

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 6, 1994.

A moment of fellowship in one of the houses where candlelight vigils are held.

photo 8

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 1994.

On the Saturdays prior to the party, in addition to rehearsing the dance, it is also necessary to prepare the locus choristicusThese tasks are basically coordinated by the principals, who have to find people to do them. These tasks are basically coordinated by the principals, who have to look for people to do them.

photo 9

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 1994.

Preparation of church decorations.

photo 10

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 1994.

Preparation of church decorations.

photo 11

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. November 1994.

In addition to the Danza de la Conquista, the Danza de las Malinches is also danced in the patronal feast, whose choreographic development deals with the cult professed to the Virgin by the "bando de los Mexicanos", that bando that in the pro-Hispanic variants of the Danza de la Conquista is presented as the people converted to the Catholic religion. From an analytical point of view, this dance can be considered as a dance fugue of colonial origin of the genre of the Conquest of Mexico. In the photo, a rehearsal of the Danza de las Malinches, at the side of the town's church.

photo 12

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaNovember 1994.

Rehearsal of the Dance of the Conquest. The "corpse" of the emperor Moctezuma is loaded on a petate and carried, at a funeral march pace, to the place of his burial.

photo 13

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Parallel to the Dance of the Conquest of Mexico, another dance related to this dance genre is performed: the Dance of the Malinches. In the photo, female members of the latter in the dance performed in the house of the mayordomo on the day before.

photo 14

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Monarco (Dance of the Malinches) in the dance of the eve.

photo 15

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Detail of the paraphernalia (bells hung on a leather patch) of the Dance of the Malinches.

photo 16

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Dance of the Malinches: detail of the paraphernalia (bells hanging from a leather patch).

photo 17

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Monarcos, Negritos and two other members of the Danza de las Malinches.

photo 18

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians of the Danza de las Malinches playing at the eve dance.

photo 19

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Musician of the Danza de las Malinches playing at the eve dance.

photo 20

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians of the Danza de la Conquista de México playing during a rehearsal in an enramada.

photo 21

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Rest and meal for the musicians on the occasion of a wreath-collecting dance in front of the house of the family in charge of watching over the wreath.

photo 22

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians from Huehuetónoc, a town that is part of the municipality of Tlacoachistlahuaca, come down to the municipal capital on the day of the festival to offer their music to the patron saint of the town.

photo 23

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians from Huehuetónoc, a town that is part of the municipality of Tlacoachistlahuaca, come down to the municipal capital on the day of the festival to offer their music to the patron saint of the town.

photo 24

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Musicians from Huehuetónoc, a town that is part of the municipality of Tlacoachistlahuaca, come down to the municipal capital on the day of the festival to offer their music to the patron saint of the town.

photo 25

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Along with Moctezuma and Cortés, Cuauhtémoc is one of the main male protagonists of the dance. With respect to his plume, it is said that "deserves rooster feather". to symbolize that Cuauhtémoc is as brave as a fighting rooster, in a region where cockfighting is very common. However, some dancers prefer to put ostrich feathers to emphasize prestige and nobility.

photo 26

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

In 1995 the dancer who played Moctezuma wore a plume of rooster feathers despite the fact that the characteristics of this character are treachery and cowardice.

photo 27

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

The dancer played by Captain Cortés, in 1994. While the chromatic variety -which coincides so much with the tastes of the place (reflected, for example, in the traditional clothing of the Amuzgo women)- is a prerogative of the Mexican side's clothing, that of the Spaniards is characterized by being uniform and tends to be dark.

photo 28

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Captain Grijalva.

photo 29

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

Spanish soldier.

photo 30

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Spanish soldiers.

photo 31

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

La Malinche with the two Negritos.

photo 32

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Mexican women: the Malinche and King Xochitl.

photo 33

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1994.

The long and repeated phase of combats and battles within the dance speaks to us, in particular, of the physical and moral qualities of Mexicans: bravery, stoicism, patriotism, that is, the legacy that the ancient Mexicans have left to the Mexicans of today. In photo, scenes of an individual combat.

photo 34

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1994.

Scenes of individual combat.

photo 35

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1995.

The capture of Moctezuma by Captain Alvarado who, upon apprehending him, declares the following: "We have already defeated the Monarch, that Mexican king today I will make him prisoner until the Cortez empire". In addition to surrendering, Monarca also loses his dignity: "[...] O Castilian emperor, now I will be your vassal, I will give you my region and throne and all that you ask of me: a quantity of gold and my many fine houses, if you leave me free to govern my city, I will be constant in serving you and I will gladly obey you. I promise you, generous one, that I will comply with whatever you command, I promise you, great lord, on my word of honor".

photo 36

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1995.

On the "Iztapalapa bridge" Moctezuma bids farewell to Cuauhtémoc: "O valiant Cuahutémoc, example of great courage, they are already taking me prisoner because of a betrayal. Malinche betrayed me, that accursed woman, for her sake I am being taken away never to return".

photo 37

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 7, 1995.

Moctezuma is taken to jail. Descending from the Iztapalapa bridge, Alvarado leads Monarca across the bridge; the Mexicans remain lined up on one side of the bridge. There, Marina says goodbye to Moctezuma: "O husband of my life, you are already being taken prisoner, [...] great sadness is in my soul, goodbye dear husband ".

photo 38

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 7, 1995.

Moctezuma is taken to jail: a hiding place made of sticks and palm leaves.

photo 39

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 8, 1994.

Upon surprising Moctezuma by handing over the palace to Cortés, Cuauhtémoc decides to kill his emperor uncle with a stone: "Ha! King Moctezuma that happens with what I see, I confuse you and I do not believe it to see you in the power of the Spaniards, when you have always been astonishment of the opponents.". Before his death, Moctezuma praises Cuauhtémoc and accepts, "admired"their luck.

photo 40

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 8, 1994.

The death of Moctezuma by the hand of Cuauhtémoc.

photo 41

Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 8, 1995.

After being captured and tortured by the Spaniards, Cuauhtémoc decides to sacrifice his life to hide the treasure of the Mexicans from Cortés: "[...]. I have done what I could in defense of my honor, I did not want to sell my town like Moctezuma, the traitor, did"..

photo 42

Carlo Bonfiglioli, TlacoachistlahuacaGro. December 8, 1995.

Death of the king of Tacuba, Mandil.

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Carlo BonfiglioliTlacoachistlahuaca, Gro. December 8, 1995.

The Queen begs Cortés to let her take care of her husband's corpse; Cortés denies her permission. The Queen is furious, offends Cortés, threatens him and declares war; she wants him dead: "[...]". I warn you: I will never be satisfied until I see you shattered into so many huge pieces. My flaming heart burns only with fury. [...] today I will tear out your heart with my sword and spear of honor, which is poisoned by fury, that to avenge the treason the Queen asks the Queen to fight with you, and by the strength of my courage, you will remain dead, Spaniard.". Cortés replies: "Better escape I'll get for not fighting with women.".

"Altars tacheros": random mini-ethnographies of everyday (religious) life.

Alejandro Frigerio

Alejandro Frigerio D. in Anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles. He previously received a B.A. in Sociology from the Universidad Católica Argentina (1980). He is currently a Senior Researcher at the conicet (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas) based at the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales of the Universidad Católica Argentina and as a professor in the Master's program in Social and Political Anthropology of the Universidad Católica Argentina. flaccid. Coordinates the network diverse (Religious Diversity in Argentina). He was president of the Association of Social Scientists of Religions in Mercosur and organizer of the first three Conferences on Religious Alternatives in Latin America. He was Paul Hanly Furfey Lecturer of the Association for the Sociology of Religion (USA).

orcid: 0000-0003-0917-3103

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. February 25, 2015 (left) and July 20, 2017 (right).

Red ribbons and rosaries.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. April 9, 2019.

Medal of Our Lady (of the Miraculous Medal), rosary, red Neapolitan horns and Turkish amulet against the evil eye.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. March 23, 2016.

Pope Francis' calendar on the sun visor; a red and a purple ribbon, a rosary, a Neapolitan horn and a "Protect my Car" ribbon of Our Lady hang from the mirror.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. November 16, 2018 (left) and February 5, 2013 (right).

On the left: little horns, red ribbon of Our Lady of Lujan, rosary, two unidentified medals. On the right: ribbon of St. George "Protect my way".

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. April 23, 2014.

Protect my car" ribbons. Stall on the sidewalk of St. George's Church, on the feast of St. George.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. April 23, 2009.

Pendants of fengshui with Catholic saints and red ribbons. Stall on the sidewalk of the church of St. George, on his feast day.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. June 3, 2013.

Magnet of Our Lady of Schoenstatt, patroness of cab drivers, holy card of Our Lady of the Rosary and a crucifix.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. December 10, 2015.

San Expedito feng-shui.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. August 7, 2017.

Pendants feng-shui in a stall on the sidewalk of the church of San Cayetano, on the feast day of that saint.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. April 8, 2013.

Virgin of Huachana and Lord (Christ) of Mailín.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. March 27, 2017.

On the mirror: ribbon and holy card of the Gauchito Gil, two unidentified medals, rosary, magnet that says "bon voyage" with two religious figures and photo of the son (upper left corner). In the center: teddy bear of River Plate and below it two holy cards (San Expedito, which is reflected in the glass and an unidentified saint). Outside the image there were also four other holy cards (shown in figure 16) and a pendant. feng-shui with an unidentified saint.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. October 25, 2018.

Hanging in the mirror: Gauchito Gil feng-shuiThere is also a ribbon of the Virgin of Luján with River Plate's coat of arms and, on the back side, a ribbon of San La Muerte (photo below). There are holy cards in at least three places in the car: San Cayetano and San Expedito (left door), Sacred Heart of Jesus and Virgin of Peace of Medjugorje on the speedometer, Virgin of Luján and Virgin Desatanudos on the air conditioner.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. February 27, 2018.

St. Cajetan stamp on the sun visor. Hanging from the mirror: red ribbon "Bless my car", medal of the Yin YangCura Brochero medal on the back (not very visible in the photo) and medal of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. February 23, 2015.

Tape "Recuerdo de Luján" with the Virgin of Luján and Gauchito Gil

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. March 21, 2020.

Stampitas of Jesus and San Cayetano; two rosaries and one San Expedito feng-shui hang from the mirror. At left, the poster for the miniseries with actor Robert Powell starring as Jesus.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. June 2, 2014.

St. Expeditus notebook, holy cards of Jesus (Robert Powell) and Pope Francis and giant die.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. March 27, 2017.

Stamps of Jesus (inspired by actor Robert Powell), Pope Francis, St. Expeditus and St. George hooked above the door.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. October 23, 2015.

Notebook of San Expedito, holy cards of Jesus, Pope Francis and Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. September 29, 2015.

Framing the window, Pope Francis between eight holy cards of saints and virgins. Above the mirror, holy cards of Pope Francis, Our Lady of Lujan and St. Cajetan. Outside the photo, hanging from the mirror, a pendant of St. Expeditus. feng-shui

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. March 11, 2015.

Stampitas of St. Expedito, St. Cajetan, Pope Francis, Virgin and three children. In the mirror, pendant feng-shui of the Virgin of Luján. To the side, on the door, stamp of the Gauchito Gil (out of the photo).

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. November 5, 2011.

Pendants feng-shui of the Virgin of Luján and San Cayetano. Chuspa (little bag) with bills (probably from Alasitas?) and a little angel hanging from the ceiling. Strollers, images of the children among Catholic holy cards (and one of the Gauchito Gil).

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. July 11, 2017.

Stamps of Our Lady of Peace from Medjugorje and St. Cajetan intermingled with photos of children.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. December 29, 2018.

Photos of children, holy cards reflected in the glass and stuffed animals. Hanging from the mirror: red ribbon "Recuerdo del Gauchito", rosaries and unidentified medals.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. November 28, 2014.

Christ of the Miracles of Lima and the Lord of Canchapilca

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. June 8, 2014.

Lord of Luren with "chauffeur's prayer".

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. August 18, 2013.

Peruvian pendant of the Virgin of the Gate, rosary and photo of the image enthroned in the Cathedral of La Plata, Argentina.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. March 25, 2015.

Catholic symbols and Alasitas elephant in sight.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. July 19, 2013.

Dreamcatcher, St. Expeditus Ribbon and Turkish eye against the evil eye.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. October 26, 2015.

Hanging from the mirror, a Turkish eye against the evil eye. On the left, a pendant with a symbol of the feng-shui. On the right, peeking through the sun visor, a holy card of the Virgin of Luján. Hanging from the edge of the left sun visor, a pendant. feng-shui with Chinese coins.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. October 19, 2015.

Red ribbon and hexagram.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. September 20, 2014.

Unidentified medal and symbol of the Yin Yang.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. August 13, 2017.

Red Ribbon and Buddha of Abundance feng-shui.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. October 8, 2014.

Two pendants feng-shui of animals, Ganesh in bronze image and tattooed on the driver's arm.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. February 27, 2014.

Chinese goddess Kuan Yin pendant with unidentified symbol.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. May 28, 2014.

Turkish eye (Nazar) with evil eye and red ribbon.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. August 27, 2013.

Posters referring to Jesus and notebook with names of those who prayed with the driver, or for whom they are going to pray in the church. Outside the photo, a banner that says "my help comes from Jesus".

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. May 25, 2018.

Cross hanging from mirror, video of two evangelical pastors (probably Peruvian) on cell phone.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. November 19, 2019.

Rosary, St. George holy card and ribbons with Ogun colors.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. February 25, 2015.

Ribbon with image of St. George and Ogun colors "give us your protection".

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. April 29, 2013.

Ogun/St. George necklace hanging from the board, rosaries and ribbons of St. Expeditus hanging from the mirror, pendants feng-shui of the same saint hooked to one end of the right sun visor.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. March 11, 2014.

Two rosaries, medal and necklace (Ogun's guide).

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. November 1, 2011.

Pendant of San La Muerte, necklaces of Exú (left). Stamps of Exú, Pomba Gira, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Oiá and Ogún (right).

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. December 22, 2016.

Stamps of the Virgin, Juan Diego, San Jorge, San Cayetano, Virgen del Rosario, Virgen de Luján, San Cristóbal and Virgen de Salta.

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Alejandro Frigerio, Buenos Aires. July 17, 2015.

Stamp of Pope Francis.

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Alejandro FrigerioBuenos Aires. August 15, 2013.

San Expedito in pendant version feng-shuiThe other two are: a holy card of Pope Francis and St. Mark of Leon. Outside the photo, others of St. George, St. Mark and a Virgin.

Śiva in the streets of India: invocations, prayers and transformations

Arturo Gutierrez del Angel

He is a professor-researcher in the Anthropological Studies Program of El Colegio de San Luis. Member of the National System of Researchers (sni) since 2008. His research has focused on mythology, religions and rituals. He has specialized in visual anthropology, particularly in the relationship between photography, plastic and cultural expressions. He has worked with groups from western and northern Mexico, such as the Wixaritari or the Na'ayari. He has published five author's books and six books as co-author, apart from publications in national and international magazines. He has exhibited his photographic work in museums and galleries, and has 20 photo exhibitions, including those related to Asia, The moment of the Gaze: 5 Asian countries.

orcid: 0000-0002-2974-1991

Greta alvarado

PhD in the Anthropological Studies program at El Colegio de San Luis, Mexico. Research topic: The Sikh diaspora in Mexico [ongoing]. Diploma in Asia, Universidad del Chaco Austral, Argentina (2020). Official Master in Advanced Studies of Art (2015-2017) and Specialist in Art from India. Faculty of Geography and History of the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Since 2019 she is a professor of the course India: art and society in the Academic Coordination of Art and in the Department of Art and Culture of the uaslp.

orcid: 0000-0002-7514-7037



Kālī, the power of time and eternal night

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Temple, New Delhi, 2018.

Kālī, Hindu goddess who embodies force and destructive power. It is the supreme night that devours everything that exists. He wears a garland of skulls around his neck. The dead leave a mark that rests in the power of time. She is the beneficent goddess of sleep, Ṥiva's companion. The mighty god, before her, is only a corpse; both recreate the birth and destruction of the universe. They are a nature that is made and undone as it lives and dies. In this image it is observed how the devotees offer coconut shells with a fire inside, while the image of Kālī is pasted on the marble of the wall.


The dancing cobras of the desert

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Thar Desert in Rajasthan, 2018.

The dancers of kalbelia, folk dance from the Thar desert (northwestern India, Rajasthan state) are characterized by their sensual movements, with a display that expresses mythical passages or messages related to nature. In this image, next to the fire, movements that recall the meandering of a cobra are recreated.



Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Mural in Vārāṇasī, 2018.

Ṥiva, as a deity, is a unit, but at the same time it is he and Ṥakti, the feminine energy, concentrating two identities. Seen like this, he is an androgynous named Ardhanārīśvara, that is, the lord whose half is a woman. The image shows its duality that, more than sexual, demonstrates the possibility of a unified power that is concentrated and manifested in these images. The masculine and the feminine are united thanks to the sparks of desire, source of life and creation.


Love offering

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Hoshiarpur, 2018.

At Hindu weddings in northwestern India, the bride and groom circle Agni, the god of fire, seven times, who devours and digests all the oblations that are presented as offerings to the gods. Through him, the devotees communicate with the inhabitants of the heavenly spheres. Mantras are also chanted and the Brahman (priest) reads passages from holy books. The wedding dress is reddish in color, as it refers to śakti, feminine (menstruation) and solar energy.


Brāhmaṇ in the luminous city of Śiva

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

In this image we see a Brahman sitting on some steps in the city of Vārāṇasī. Next to it there is a solar image, impregnated with saffron color, whose rays illuminate a prayer in Sanskrit that invites us to greet and invoke the god Sūrya, the Sun. In the Mahābhārata it is narrated that the brightness of this star on earth was violent ; Therefore, Viśvakarman, the architect, cut an eighth of its rays from the solar star, fragments with which he created Ṥiva's trident (Daniélou, 2009: 149).


Ritual prayer

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Rajasthan, 2018.

Garlands of flowers are sold outside the temples so that the devotees can offer them to the gods. The venerated god, seeing and smelling them, succumbs to their spell and comes to listen to the requests of the faithful. In the image we see a woman from Rajasthan who wears a veil with which she covers her face from the sun and protects her face from the gazes of passersby.


Invocation to Gaṇeśa

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Rajasthan, 2018.

In the temples different rituals are celebrated. The picture shows a Hindu wedding in a temple in Rajasthan. The bride and groom, families and devotees are seen leaving offerings to Gaṇeśa, the elephant-headed god. The aim is that with his trunk he helps future spouses to eliminate the obstacles that may arise in his new life as a couple.


The sound of worship

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Jaipur, 2018.

Pictured is an urban musician in the labyrinthine streets of Jaipur, India. He plays a stringed instrument called ravanahatha; its name comes from the king of Sri Lankā, Rāvaṇa, who is said to have used it to worship Ṥiva (Daniélou, 2009: 166). The songs tell stories related to the gods and their adventures.


The presence of If you

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

In the image we see Ṥiva sitting on the tiger's skin carrying a trident, an instrument that recalls the three actions of the universe: creation, destruction and conservation, and a damaru, an hourglass-shaped drum that has boleadoras at the ends and that when shaking the handle produces a heavenly sound. The snake around his neck is the dominance of desire. The blue brushstrokes on the neck indicate the residues of a poison that he drank so that it would not mix with the elixir of immortality. The goddess Gaṅgā springs from the hair of the god, and is the manifestation of the river Ganges that descends to earth.


Steps to eternity

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

When one walks among the ghāṭs1 From the city of Vārāṇasī, on the steps leading to the Ganges River, he meets different deities. In the image he is seen prostrate on the stairs a Ṥiva in his phallic invocation (liṅga-yoni), and the largest orange image on the wall is Hánuman, the monkey god, and the smallest is Gaṇeśa. The bone-colored figure is Durgā, a goddess who rides a tiger or a lion. He has several arms in which he wields weapons that were given to him by some gods to annihilate a asura (demon) called Mahiṣa.


Devotee of If you

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

The sādhus they generally inhabit Vārāṇasī and are devotees of Ṥiva. They are ascetics who adopt penance and austerity as a way of life. In this way they achieve enlightenment and eternal happiness.


Deity in transit

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Rajasthan, 2018.

As if they were moving altarpieces, buses, taxis, floats, shop signs, etc., narrate different passages from Hindu mythology. On the upper plate we can see a protective amulet: the image of the goddess Durgā, one of the avatars of the consort of Ṥiva.


Maheśvara, the great god

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Shree Durgiana Tirath, Amritsar, 2018.

This enclosure is dedicated mainly to the goddess Durgā, and it is also known by the name of the temple of silver, due to the color of some doors. Here devotees worship Ṥiva, especially on Mondays (somavāra), day dedicated to this god. The sculpture shows him in a state of meditation that supposes unity with everything that exists; he stands above all gods, he is the great god, Maheśvara, with the serpent coiled around his neck. On the left side is his trident and his damaru. The devotees have left garlands of flowers on his body as offerings.


Veneration and daily life

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Rajasthan, 2018.

Local markets or shops are among the favorite places for Ṥiva to be present. We see that this outlet is called "Shiba" and sells everyday items such as vests and underpants. Thus, this god materializes in the most unexpected and everyday places: the myth creates a memory ploy for the wanderers.



Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

In traditional Indian architecture, stairways are built that end, or begin, in a lake or fountain. They are particularly attractive to pilgrims who visit them, drink the waters and immerse themselves in them. In the image we see two pilgrims on some steps washing their clothes and taking a bath in Khajuraho, India.


Ethereal flowers

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Rajasthan, 2018.

The various components of the offerings correspond to the elements of existence: water when the deity is washed, fire in oil lamps, air in incense, earth in the aroma of perfumed oils and flowers, ethereal element. Thus, the preferred offerings of the deities are coconuts and flowers, particularly marigold garlands (Tagetes erecta), which are often sold outside the temples. In the image you can see a devotee who goes to the temple and first buys a flower necklace to leave at the feet or hang from the neck of some deity.


Between life and death

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Rajasthan, 2018.

On a foggy morning in Vārāṇasī, on the bank of the Ganges, various activities are carried out such as washing clothes in local laundries, the barber shaving the hair of the deceased's relatives in mourning and the boats from which they are thrown the ashes of the dead.


Transformations of If you in mumbai

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Mumbai, 2018.

In the image you can see an urban temple dedicated to the liṅga-yoni, the phallic form of Ṥiva and the vagina that represents Ṥakti, the feminine energy. On the yoni we can see a cosmic egg, another of the forms of Ṥiva. On one side of the sculpture is Nandin, the bull that serves as a vehicle for the phallic god.

The three essences of the universe


Sacred cavity

Greta Alvarado. New Delhi, 2018.

In the image you can see a curious niche in the streets of New Delhi. In the center you can see a painting with Ṥiva, Pārvātī and their son Gaṇeśa. On the left side, the goddess Durgā with weapons in her multiple hands. On the right side, Sarasvati, goddess of knowledge; Lakṣmī, goddess of fortune and Gaṇeśa, the elephant-headed god who removes obstacles. There is also a liṅga-yoni decorated with flowers.


The golden embryo

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Ajmer, 2018.

Brahmā is a bearded sovereign with his four heads pointing to the cardinal points. This god is attributed the creation of the Universe, the creative principle or the golden embryo (Hiraṇia-garbha). In Ajmer it is related that the devotees stopped worshiping him because he lied to Ṥiva, told him that he had reached the summit of the liṅga. Knowing that it was not true, Ṥiva pronounced a curse on him. Except in some temples, such as Ajmer, hardly anyone would present offerings to him.


The dream of the world

Sergio T. Serrano Hernández. Archaeological Survey of India Museum, Mumbai, 2016.

When Viṣṇu sleeps on water, he dreams, creates and preserves the world. While Ṥiva is the destroying principle, Viṣṇu is the principle of continuation, it is the symbol of perpetual life.


Phallic worship

Sergio T. Serrano Hernández. Ellorā Cave, Aurangābād, 2016.

Phallic form of Ṥiva known as ῡrdhvaliṅga, an erect penis that indicates continence and the rise of semen within the body. It is located on the yoni, the vulva, feminine energy. Devotees lay offerings of flowers, oil lamps, and rupees, the Indian currency.


Abode of the gods

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

The image shows an ancient stone engraving that is the plan or sketch of a temple, and within it a liṅga-yoni. It is what we consider a reduced model of the universe.

Divine seduction



Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

Devotee making an offering with holy water from the Ganges river, leaves and flowers, to a liṅga-yoni protected by kuṇḍalinī, a serpent that is the source of spiritual energies.


Ancient footprints

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

In some of the Khajuraho temples we see ancient footprints, traces of a missing body: a body that leaves the memory in the detailed sculpted feet.


"Break them skulls"

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

The stalls where different items for cremations are sold are called "skull breakers"; they are found on the banks of the Ganges River in Vārāṇasī. This name comes from the times when a phase of the funeral ritual consisted of breaking the skull of the deceased so that his soul was released; at present the skull fracture has been replaced by that of a coconut. Several stalls sell floral offerings, cloths to cover the dead, and coconuts.


Gods guarding a portico

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Temple of Durgiana. Amritsar, 2018.

In the relief of the doors the contours of Ṥiva and Durgā are observed, in an embossing technique. In the upper frieze is Nara-siṃha, half man and half lion, avatar of Viṣṇu, emptying the intestines of a demon named Hiraṇya-kaṥipu (covered with gold). Brahmā is seen on the left and Ṥiva on the right.

The phallic god: transfigurations and invocation


The line of fire

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

On the bank of the river Ganges we see a ritual with a renewed scenery, in which the gods present in Vārāṇasī, such as Gaṅgā and Ṥiva, are blessed through a ritual called ārtī, which consists of the circular movement of oil lamps with images of snakes, manipulated by ritual specialists. This "show", which takes place every night, is performed mostly for visitors. One of its main characteristics is that extremely striking and abundant resources are displayed in the space: colored lights, sounds, flavors ...


Transfiguration of the liṅga

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. National Museum, New Delhi, 2018.

This piece belongs to the Chola dynasty, from the century xii. It shows the exact moment when, from the depths of the cosmic ocean, a huge liṅga on fire. Brahmā mounted on his goose and flew into the sky to see how far the liṅga, while Vishnu turned into a wild boar to dive and find the origin. However the liṅga it continued to grow towards both extremes. Some time later, one side of the li sega opened and Ṥiva emerged as the supreme force of the universe.

Video 1


Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. National Museum, New Delhi, 2018.

Mukhaliṅga it is a phallic form of Ṥiva with five faces of the god; the fifth face is usually invisible, as it is only seen through inner understanding. One of the faces looks upwards, the others towards the four cardinal points. Ṥiva is the ruler of the five spatial directions, each face has a distinctive color: pearl, yellow, cloud, white and red. In some villages, during the winter months they are wrapped in woolen cloth to heat the semen (subtle energy) that is stored there.


Saffron brushstrokes

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

In the image you see a sādhu resting, and below, on the ghāṭs, there are several liṅgas-yonis and other deities. The saffron color in the clothes of the ascetic and the gods is characteristic in Hinduism, as it is related to fertility and sacrifice.



Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. New Delhi, 2018.

The tīrthas they are spaces where you can move from an empirical and sensitive reality to a transcendental one. Their presences go unnoticed by most people, but they are everyday places that have a particular and subjective beauty. Each place is selected as a continent that keeps the figures of the gods and the offerings; They are located at a crossroads, like this small altar, located on a corner between the busy streets of Delhi. The devotees have placed a liṅga-yoni adorned with flowers, an abstract representation of the phallus on the vulva, a creative combination of masculine and feminine forces, as well as Nandin, the bull that guards the image, and various representations of feminine goddesses. Candles and plates with offerings are left for them.


The deed of the Universe

Sergio T. Serrano Hernández. Udayagiri Caves. Orissa, 2016.

Ekamukha liṅga, Ṥiva-faced phallus. It is the visible form of the divine creator and emblem. By worshiping him, you get pleasure and liberation. The earth and the cave are the womb; the stone erect the phallus that fertilizes it. This duality make up a microcosm, the reflection of the deed of the universe.

Video 2

Rudra abhiśeka

Greta Alvarado. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

Rudra abhiśeka, the bath of Rudra (the avatar of Ṥiva as god of storms), consists of a consecration ritual and its devices vary according to particular traditions; can be led by a Brahman (priest) in the temples, or by some devotee who worships the liṅga-yoni which is placed in the tīrthas, sacred places that are marked under a tree, in a corner or a significant cross.


Darshan, a game of glances

Sergio T. Serrano Hernández. Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, 2016.

Among the streets of the neighborhoods there are some very ingenious temples. Under the tree a liṅga black stone; Eyes have been drawn to indicate that Ṥiva has re-emerged in sculpture. His eyes engage what is called darshan, a game of gazes between the devotee and the deity. On this figure a brass or sheet vessel is hung, in which a small hole is made in the lower part, which is filled with water and milk so that the liquid is continuously dripping on the liṅga. In this way, the male vital liquid is referred to: semen. As we see in the image, in the urban temple there is also a yoni and a snake kuṇḍalinī made of copper, in addition to the trident and Nandin. The passerby, when passing through these street temples, adorns them with floral offerings and rings the bells hanging from the branches of the tree, calling on the god to make sure they have their attention.

Tantra, eroticism and frenzy


Sacred eroticism

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

In the image we see a male figure, considered an allusion to Ṥiva and another, female, which is Ṥakti. Their intertwined bodies represent a microcosm that shows the deed of the world through tantric ritual, a sexual game as a principle of creation performed by the "original couple" and reproduced by humans.


The divine embrace

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

The image shows the divine embrace. The sculptures are a microcosm that combines the playful aspect of creation with eroticized bodies. For the sculptors, each sexual movement was a cause for astonishment that was embodied as an ode to pleasure and creation.


«A you and me that becomes“ yours ”»

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

The bodies sculpted in stone, naked, in unscrupulous sexual positions, playful, embody prakṛti (the feminine) already puruṣa (the masculine), for which they must be understood, as suggested by the great Mexican poet Octavio Paz (2004: 36), as «a you and me that becomes 'yours'».


The unfathomable secret of creation

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

As you look at them, the subtly carved sculpture passages at Khajuraho do not cease to cause amazement; they amaze, admire and above all, arouse a secret excitement accompanied by a set of questions: whose bodies are they? Why do they allude to the graphic of eroticism? Thus, we must look at them with the same admiration and detachment towards nature that possesses the unfathomable secret of creation.


The hymn of the god of love ... (the fiery form of If you)

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

The first call is the invocation of the god (hiṅkāra)
The proposition represents the lutes (prastāva)
Laying with the woman is the hymn of glory (udgītha)
Lying down facing the woman is the chorus (pratihāra)
The climax is the ritual consecration (nidhāna)
Separation is the final hymn (nidhāna)

This is the hymn of the left-hand-god [igneous] (Vāmadeva) made about the act of love (Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 2, 13, I, apud Daniélou, 2009: 304).


Cosmic orgasm

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

Inside each being there are portions of cosmic energies destined to be awakened. Just as the creatures of Ṥiva seduce the Lord to come to meet them, in this case dialogue, certain rituals and meditations awaken that part of the gods within themselves. His presence is the very ecstasy of meditation and the tantric practices that produce ānanda, an experience of happiness, a cosmic orgasm ...

The reflection of If you in the mythological mirror


Fulmination of desire

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel Vārāṇasī, 2018.

In the image you can see some sādhus covered with the ashes of cremated bodies. Two carry a blanket that simulates tiger skin. Sometimes Ṥiva is personified sitting on her or wearing a skin of this great cat, mount of the goddess Durgā (avatar of Pārvatī), one of the representatives of ṥakti, feminine energy. By sitting on this skin, the god hunts and conquers desire, that is, he does not give in to sensual temptations.

Nandin, the joy


Nandin, the joy

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

Each deity has an animal that helps him to display the qualities that each one has on the cosmographic scene. The bull Nandin guards the liṅga of black stone on a yoni reddish stone. The devotees have left flowers as offerings. Nandin, like Ṥiva, has the powers of transformation, folding, contraction, multiplicity, and is the vehicle in which the god is transported.


Nandin maṇḍapa (pavilion)

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

The temple room that houses Nandin or other deities is a place full of purity; no one can enter with shoes because otherwise they would be dirtying the room. The gaze on the deity is not free, but the orientation of the temple and the location of the figure make one have to walk in a clockwise direction, leaving the right side of the devotee towards the object of worship; a bow is made and the nose or legs, back or any part of the bull's body can be stroked to receive his blessing.

Vegetable hierophanies


Vegetable hierophanies

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Khajuraho, 2018.

The tree is the center of the universe and the axis mundi; it is where the diversity of forces found runs: connection of the earthly, the underworld and the celestial plane. They are, as Eliade says, "vegetal hierophanies" where the sacred is revealed through vegetation: the cosmic tree of life that gives rise to the most diverse myths that allude to this twisting of the plot between different planes of empirical existence, but also its opposite (Eliade, 1981: 32). Devotees ring the bells on the tree to get the attention of the gods and make sure their requests are heard. Plastics are tied to the branches that give a bright and multi-colored appearance.


The cosmic tree

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Durgiana Temple, Amristar, 2018.

The trees are margins that invite us to think about the borders of different realities, between the earthly (microcosmic) reflection of Jambudvīpa, and the sky, like the splendid cosmic tree that is in the center of the mythical Mount Meru. A trident (alluding to a phallic shape) has been fitted into the opening of the trunk. The outline of the cavity has been outlined in gold to emphasize it and indicate the shape of a vulva. Around the trunks, the devotees tie fabrics or threads preferably red, a color linked to ṥakti, the feminine energy, as an offering for a specific request. Inside the cavity are some nascent figures.

Vārāṇasī, the floating city


The mirror of the Universe

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

Vārāṇasī exists because the river Ganges exists; one is the continuation of the other, without one the other does not exist, one thinks of the other and continues in the marine deltas; they are the mirror of the universe and therefore an intermediate cosmos between the celestial and the terrestrial. In the image we observe the greatness of this embrace between an overflowing nature and a humanized image of the city through the ghāṭs.


Vārāṇasī, the floating city

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

The city is a commemoration of Ṥiva, and therefore it is full of temples for him. Some have painted drawings of liṅgas in the dome. One of the main temples is the so-called Kashi Vishvanath, an ode to the phallic form of the god and the destiny of many pilgrims. Ṥiva walked from Kedarnath (in the Himalayas) and settled in the form of a linga at the Kedar temple in Vārāṇasī.


Death permeates all the senses

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

It is said that this city keeps the Universe in motion by the flow of life and death that meet there: life provided by the liṅga de Ṥiva, penis torn from the body of the god who fell in the city; death that permeates all the senses as you walk among the smoking funeral pyres. Everyone wants to die with the dignity that this city gives when it turns to ashes which will feed the dampness of the waters of Gaṅgā and help the universe reproduce. By being cremated in Vārāṇasī, the chain of your karma is broken.



Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

The walker can observe on the bank of the river Ganges some men called ghattiya whose task is to safeguard the belongings of those who decide to dive into the Ganges. In addition, they do a ritual in which they bless you at the end of the ablutions.

Wandering presences and conquerors of death


Conquerors of death

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

In this image we see a sādhu performing ascetic disciplines. Their skin has been rubbed with funerary ashes, which become a component opposed to death, as they are endowed with magical qualities: they make sterile women fertile, or they are amulets that care for the houses of women in labor. On the right side there is a blanket that emulates a tiger skin and a trident, symbols of Ṥiva.


If you wandering

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

In the image you see a sādhu playing the flute. Comb your hair in jaṭāmukuṭa, knots raised in a ponytail, like Ṥiva's image. Decorate your musical instrument with a trident, called triṥūla, which symbolizes the three fundamental tendencies of nature: creation, preservation and destruction. Ṥiva is also called Ṥūlin (the one with the trident). The sadhῡs They say that Ṥiva descended to earth disguised as a yogi, walks around naked and begs for alms. For this reason, it is sometimes said that the god wanders the streets in the form of sādhu.


The last sacrifice

Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel. Vārāṇasī, 2018.

Cremation is the last sacrifice offered to the gods. The ashes and residues of the dead belong to Ṥiva, and are transported in a boat to be thrown into the Ganges River. Ṥiva is the boatman and at the same time is the boat that takes to the other world. A Ṥiva mantra is recited in the ear of the dead, known as tarati, so that they can swim and obtain salvation.


Daniélou, Alain (2009). Mitos y dioses de la India. Girona: Atalanta.

Eliade, Mircea (1981). Tratado de historia de las religiones. Ciudad de México: Era.

Paz, Octavio (2004). Vislumbres de la India. Barcelona: Seix Barral.