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Little Flags of the Land
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© Colette Urbajtel/Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, SC

Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Mexican, 1930 - 1940
Gelatin silver print
6 13/16 x 9 1/2 in.
92.XM.23.43

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Much of Manuel Alvarez Bravo's work investigates the natural world and the ways in which it served Mexico's native population. In this image, neatly cultivated rows of saplings emerge from the dry, crumbly earth. For centuries this land has provided Mexicans with the corn that is integral to their sustenance. The tattered piece of cloth hanging from a twig-like branch--referred to as a "little flag" by Alvarez Bravo--serves as a scarecrow in a recently planted field. The stick-and-rag scarecrow may be seen as a stand-in for the photographer himself in this otherwise empty landscape.