It’s difficult to think that weapons, which usually kill a lot of people and destroy their arts, can become art. But someone managed to do it trough his creativity, and his dedication for the social, environmental and educational situations.  

He’s Pedro Reyes, a Mexican artist who develops projects for fighting the violence recycling weapons, like rifles, shot-guns, revolvers, machine-guns etc… The weapons of his projects “Imagine” (2012) and “Disarm” (2013) were given to him by the Mexican government, that had confiscated them to the drugs cartel of Ciudad, in Mexico. The government had contacted him because he was already known for his previous project “Palas por Pistolas”. It had been developed in Culican, one of the Mexican city with highest rate of criminality and people killed by weapons. Here the residents had given their weapons to Pedro getting back some discount for buying appliances and devices. Pedro obtained 1527 weapons that were melted to produce 1527 shovels and for each of them a tree was planted in the botanical garden of the city.

Pedro states that this idea is a way for demonstrating how an agent of death can become an agent of life.

His following projects, “Imagine” and “Disarm”, were all dedicated to music. They were possible with the cooperation of 6 musicians who helped him to recover the weapons cutting and welding them, and finally transforming them into musical instruments. They were able to build different instruments: from wind to percussion and string ones.

“Imagine” is a set of 50 musical instruments, used by an orchestra for playing John Lennon’s song: Imagine. Initially this project was presented at the Mexico City Gallery Proyecto Liquido. After this first performance, “Imagine” went on to several other galleries around the world.

“Disarm” is not only made of instruments presented in the exhibition but also a music performance where these instruments are being played. It is the following step of the previous project “Imagine”. It features 8 Machine Music paintings, 8 Disarm instruments – including a Xylophone, Rain Stick, Guitar, Banjo and Violin, and 9 mechanised Disarm instruments.

These instruments can be programmed and controlled by a computer and it’s possible to play them in order to produce music and present concerts.

Reyes considered the musical instruments sound as an “exorcism or an elegy.”

He said: “It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost.”

I think that these projects are important for the environment because their author recycles objects, like weapons, which should be destroyed or buried, and which spread violence and cause a lot of dead, transforming them into artistic objects that spread culture, happiness and vitality, and that connect people. This is the exactly profound message that they include and that they spread in society.

Gaia Pozzi Classe IIM

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