Billowing, black smoke fills the sky, obscuring the grazing burro on the right, in this photograph of an adobe brick kiln. Manuel Alvarez Bravo called this image La Quema, a term meaning "the fire" or "the burning." Depicting a landscape threatened by human industry, the image may symbolize more sinister historical events. Alvarez Bravo, who came of age during the violent Revolution of 1910-1920, often saw dead bodies burning in the street.
The Mexican people may have viewed the kiln--a site of fiery transmutations--as an allusion to the Spaniards' conquest and purging of the Aztecs in the 1500s. About this image, one historian has said: "The photograph does not project sorrow or excessive drama, but quiet and noble resignation. Even the human figure standing at the base of the kiln/pyramid has an attitude, extremely Mexican in character, of resigned acceptance of destiny."