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."