Installation comprising 6 mechanized instruments, recycled metal, dimensions variable 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery.
Mexican artist Pedro Reyes’s work is a socio-political critique on contemporary society and our responsibility towards it. His large-scale projects are catalysts for communal and psychological transformation, triggering group interaction and creativity.
"Disarm (Mechanized)" relates to two of Reyes's previous projects: "Palas por Pistolas" (2007) in which citizens of the Mexican state of Sinaloa donated a total of 1,527 weapons through a campaign, which were then turned into 1,527 shovels to plant 1,527 trees; and "Disarm (2012)", in which seized and subsequently destroyed firearms were used to fabricate musical instruments. "Disarm (Mechanized)", 2013, comprises six mechanized musical instruments, created in collaboration with Mexico City-based media workshop COCOLAB. Fabricated from parts of revolvers, shotguns, and machine-guns, these instruments intermittently play in the exhibition space as musical automatons.
A large part of today’s world politics has been hijacked by the weapons industry, fueling conflict around the world for the sole purpose of profit. Most of the time, the blame goes to whoever pulls the trigger, while the companies that manufacture these weapons and the political states that sell them somehow manage to escape proper scrutiny. "Disarm" is a project that hopes to remind us that living in an environment free of weapons ought to be a human right, and that it is within our means to transform agents of death into instruments of life. If we can turn a weapon into a musical instrument, hopefully, that physical transformation could lead to a psychological and social transformation.
Pedro Reyes (Mexico City, 1972) studied architecture but considers himself a sculptor, although his works integrate elements of theater, psychology and activism. His work takes on a great variety of forms, from penetrable sculptures (Capulas, 2002-08) to puppet productions (Baby Marx, 2008 and The Permanent Revolution, 2014).
In 2008, Reyes initiated the ongoing Palas por Pistolas where 1,527 guns were collected in Mexico through a voluntary donation campaign to produce the same number of shovels to plant 1,527 trees. This led to Disarm (2012), where 6,700 destroyed weapons were transformed into a series of musical instruments.
In 2011, Reyes initiated Sanatorium, a transient clinic that provides short unexpected treatments mixing art and psychology. Originally commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Sanatorium has been in operation at Documenta 13, Kassel (2012), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013), The Power Plant, Toronto (2014), the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Miami (2014-2015), and OCA, Sao Paulo (2015). In 2013, he presented the first edition of pUN: The People’s United Nations at Queens Museum in New York City. pUN is an experimental conference in which regular citizens act as delegates for each of the countries in the UN and seek to apply techniques and resources from social psychology, theater, art and conflict resolution to geopolitics. pUN’s second edition took place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2015). The third General Assembly of pUN took place in December 2015 at the Museum of the 21st century in Kanazawa, Japan.
Reyes lives and works in Mexico City.