The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this document David Alfaro Siqueiros reflects upon the nexus between society and its aesthetic production, particularly with regard to the status of architecture under the bourgeois order. The article is directed toward the officials in charge of the construction of public buildings and to architects and engineers, whose fascination with dynamism as a synonym for modernity he assiduously criticizes. The author believes that the concept of dynamism is erroneously applied when reduced to commercialism: the desire to produce the greatest profit in the least amount of time with the least effort leads to building for building’s sake. He likewise condemns Futurists and Etridentistas (admirers of Fascism) for praising this trend, given that it is the very essence of bourgeois exploitation. Consequently, Siqueiros demands that the Government spend the people’s money on works that will endure and benefit the masses; he also proposes that decadent architecture, which prioritizes style, should be replaced by another that is ruled by geographical requirements as well as by the physical properties of the materials used in construction. He concludes by stating that only the future socialist revolution can establish the principles of solidity, significance, permanence, pure science, and the perfection of manual trades.
The text, which is filled with irony and harsh epithets, is evidence of the deep disdain that David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) had for the aesthetic production that he calls “democratic-bourgeois-liberal,” as well as an indication of his disapproval for the cult of speed that this production entails, and for its determination to “do whatever is possible in whatever manner possible.” Within the context of Mexico City’s urban growth, the author takes aim against what he believes to be the chief degradation in architecture: works characterized by a “small-bourgeois” individualism, whose reason for being seems to be the exhibition of style. He considered these works to be composed of ephemeral materials in an improvised manner and characterized by useless ornamentation; Siqueiros did not consider them to be consistent with the basic function of construction (which was associated with everyday life, health and aesthetic education), nor with the nature of the materials, but rather they sought to “rip off” European styles, alien to Mexico’s geographical characteristics. He juxtaposes this stylistic principle with one of logic exclusively based on the needs of the materials and on a geographical determinism that leaves no room for objection. Just as Siqueiros demonizes the supposedly avant-garde architects and intellectuals (whose names are omitted, although they are understood), the text idealizes the anonymous builder of the people who is, it is presumed, guided by common sense, intuitive logic, and experience that, in Siqueiros’ judgment, are the only reason why buildings do not collapse. In his opinion, only the homogenizing, revolutionary utopia will purify humanity and its creations. But until this occurs, he states that public officials should accept the most sensible technical collaboration available (which is unrelated to the mediocre, exhibitionist intelligentsia). In his view, that artists should be paid by the people, that they should work with them, that they should not be “servile” nor “effeminate sentimentalists,” but instead they should fulfill their purpose: meaning, of course, that purpose as defined by Siqueiros.