Pia Riverola’s Photo Book is a Love Letter to Mexico
Photographer Pia Riverola takes us on a wistful journey through Mexico via her photo book Flechazo – a captivating love letter to the country and its people.
Pia Riverola was born and raised in Barcelona. After finishing her studies, she took a trip to Mexico where she "fell in love instantly" with the country – from its culture to its spirit. A year later, she packed up her bags and made the move to the North American country, documenting her travels along the way. For seven years, she lensed her life in Mexico – from its day-to-day details to the people.
The result is the new photo book Flechazo, a visual ode to Mexico. The title itself means 'love at first sight', a return to the emotions that led to her move. The red-bound book is fronted by an image of flowers and crates, balancing the contrasts of everyday mundanities with vibrancy and colour. Bundles of stems are placed next to bags of flowers; beads of water running down the translucent plastic. Flechazo contains 10 years' worth of photographs, dating back from 2012 to 2022.
Ahead of the book's release, we caught up with Riverola. Below, she shares some stunning imagery from Flechazo and touches upon the importance of travel, and what Mexico means to her.
Why do you travel? What does it mean for you?
Travel is learning. Experiencing different cultures, meeting people, understanding nature or the lack of it, expanding cultural knowledge, digging about the past, questioning the present, future.
I started travelling for all the above and it slowly became my job to document it, so I'm extremely thankful to have the opportunity to do so.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I think aesthetic is difficult to describe as a whole since it’s in constant change. My work evolves as I do, my interests and emotions shift and change, and the aesthetic moves with it. I like to focus on the quotidian, day-to-day moments that maybe we don’t pay as much attention to. Light and colour play an important role as well in my photography.
What inspired you to make the journey around Mexico?
I moved to Mexico in 2012, right after finishing my studies. It was a mix between running away from my hometown in Barcelona, mixed with the excitement of the new and unexpected.
I was 22 at the time and going through changes, insecurities – a very difficult time but a perfect, isolating situation to get out the resilience and some skills that I didn't think I had. I didn’t come to the realisation of what I was doing, nor did anyone, until later on. In the moment it felt like Mexico's magnetic energy pulling me into it.
You describe your book as a love letter to Mexico – its culture, people and spirit. What was the culture and local community like in Mexico?
Generosity is the first word that comes to my mind. I felt welcomed since day one, both in the city by people that would end up becoming my friends, but, more amazingly, welcomed by strangers anywhere I’d be travelling to. I have been on assignment in a remote location, small village, an island and have had people welcome me into their houses, offer me “agua del dia” or whatever food they have been cooking for the family; introduce me to their children and take me to their favourite secret spots.
I have felt the warmth and love continuously throughout the years, and that has influenced my work a lot. In the city it feels very much like a community, people supporting each other professionally but most importantly, personally, almost like a big family.
Your project spans across multiple cities in Mexico. What was the whole experience like for you? Where was your favourite place?
I lived full time in Mexico City for over seven years, so that’s definitely my favourite place in the book and probably in the world.
How have your travels influenced your overall creative practice?
Travelling constantly influences me and as a result, my creativity. My initial work was way more focused on the pleasing aesthetic, whereas now I need the storytelling, the maybe not so eye-catching, but more meaningful, stories. A more journalistic take on what I'm seeing.
You have a lot of beautiful images. Was there a particularly memorable subject?
Every person and image featured in my book is a memorable moment. A certain state of mind from the past that is stuck in time on each photo.
Are there any cultural highlights from your time in Mexico?
Day of the Dead and the weeks running up to it are beautiful to experience in the city and around the country.
People giving homage to the dead, gathering together, the flower harvest, the ofrendas and the community tradition around the date are truly special to live.
What’s some of the best food you ate?
Everything is delicious and super tasty. I love huevos divorciados for breakfast, ceviche for lunch and a michelada with dinner.
What are three tips you would give to someone going to Mexico for the first time?
Make an effort to understand the culture and not appropriate it. Be kind and generous. And “mild spicy” means very spicy.
Where would you like to travel to next and why?
There are too many places to explore, and a lot still in Mexico as well. Maybe Chiapas will be my next.