Functional Instruments from Destroyed Drug War Weapons

Imagine is a set of 50 musical instruments fabricated out of destroyed weapons – revolvers, shot-guns, machine-guns, etc. This work is a progression of Palas por Pistolas (2008), where 1527 weapons were melted and made into the same number of shovels to plant 1527 trees. In April this year I got a call from the government who had learned about Palas por Pistolas, they told me a public destruction of weapons was to take place in Ciudad Juarez and asked me if I was interested in keeping the metal, which would otherwise have been buried as usual. I accepted the material but I wanted to do something new this time. 6700 weapons, cut into parts and rendered useless, were given to me and I set out to make them into instruments.

A group of 6 musicians worked for 2 weeks shoulder-to-shoulder turning these agents of death into instruments of life. The task was challenging but they succeeded in extracting sounds, from percussion to wind and string. It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical. 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.

This is also a call to action, since we cannot stop the violence only at the place where the weapons are being used, but also where they are made. There is a disparity between visible and invisible violence. The nearly 80,000 deaths by gun-shot that have occurred in Mexico in the last 6 years, or the school shootings in the US are the visible side of violence. The invisible side is that one of gun trade-shows, neglecting assault rifle bans, and shareholder profit from public companies. This is a large industry of death and suffering for which no cultural rejection is expressed.Guns continue to be depicted as something sexy both in Hollywood and in videogames; there may be actors who won’t smoke on the screen, but there has not been one who would reject the role of a trigger-happy hero.

In the last century there has been organized movements for gay rights, gender and race equality and the environment, yet we still need to express our desire for a world without weapons. Living in a community free of guns ought to be a human right. Many liberties that we enjoy today were once considered utopian, and the first step taken into that direction was to Imagine.

 

As part of his latest project Imagine, Mexico City based artist Pedro Reyes acquired some 6,700 weapons that were scheduled to be buried (as is customary in mass weapon disposals) and instead collaborated with six musicians to create 50 working instruments as part of a statement regarding increased gun violence in Mexico. The numerous firearms were cut down, welded and formed into a variety of string, wind, and percussion instruments over a period of two weeks last month. Via his blog Reyes says:

It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical. 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. […] This is also a call to action, since we cannot stop the violence only at the place where the weapons are being used, but also where they are made. There is a disparity between visible and invisible violence. The nearly 80,000 deaths by gun-shot that have occurred in Mexico in the last 6 years, or the school shootings in the US are the visible side of violence. The invisible side is that one of gun trade-shows, neglecting assault rifle bans, and shareholder profit from public companies. This is a large industry of death and suffering for which no cultural rejection is expressed.Guns continue to be depicted as something sexy both in Hollywood and in videogames; there may be actors who won’t smoke on the screen, but there has not been one who would reject the role of a trigger-happy hero.

Surprisingly this is not the artists first project involving the reuse of guns. Back in 2008 he was provided with 1,527 destroyed weapons which he melted down to build shovels to plant 1,527 trees as part of his Palas por Pistolas project. If you liked this also check out the work of Al Farrow. (via my amp goes to 11)

 

Pedro Reyes, Imagine, 2012.

Alumnos47. Comisión y producción

Jessica Berlanga Taylor. Curadora de Proyecto Líquido para Alumnos47.

Emiliano García y Marcelo Rangel Valenzuela. Coordinación de producción

Jazmín Zepeda. Coordinación y dirección musical

Omar Córdova. Adrián López. Alonso López. José Mena. Leika Mochan. Daniel Zepeda. Músicos y diseñadores de instrumentos.

Antonio García Salinas. Herrero artesano
Arturo Quiroz. Herrero artesano

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