Revolution, Renewable: Subsoil Political Ecologies in Rivera’s Song of the Earth
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5070/R51053036
This paper argues that in centering the interior of the earth as crucial to the political goals of the revolution, Diego Rivera contests not only the ownership of subsoil resources, but also capitalist epistemologies of the subsoil and their understanding of the relationship of the subsoil to social and political ecologies. In The Song of the Earth and Those who Till and Liberate It, the liberation of both people and the earth are cast not as linear teleologies with fixed endpoints, but rather as cyclical temporalities of constant renewal. These cycles are depicted not as parallel, but rather as interdependent life cycles of a larger ecology; the resulting deaths of the West wall’s revolution are figured as elemental geneses of the East wall’s cycle of organic life. The Chapingo murals thus reveal an important complexity to Rivera’s revolutionary ideology: a belief in the mutual dependence between environmental sustainability and the equitable distribution and control of resources. Ultimately, these murals reflect the extent to which in post-revolutionary Mexico, the renewability of subsoil resources was not seen as just important to the success of revolutionary goals, but also dependent upon them.