From Weaponry to Symphony: An Artist Makes Music from Confiscated Guns
by Andri Antoniades
December 2, 2012
Mexican artist Pedro Reyes transforms ‘agents of death’ into ‘instruments of life.’
Mexican artist Pedro Reyes transformed 6,700 used weapons into an orchestra of musical instruments as an act of protest against gun violence and a firearms industry he says is killing his people.
As part of a project Reyes calls Imagine, he worked with six musicians over several weeks to reimagine the weapons into objects that could create beautiful sounds. Together, they took the weapons apart and re-welded them into a variety of playable instruments that include wood, strings, and percussion.
Reyes writes on his website that the process of turning these “agents of death into instruments of life” was painful, albeit personally transformative. “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.”
According to the artist, over the last six years, there have been 80,000 deaths in Mexico due to gun violence. However, Reyes says that the more insidious problem lies with the gun industry; the suppliers who are on an endless circuit of trade shows, the ones who ignore assault weapon bans by continuing to sell them, while counting profit above responsibility, are the ones that need to be legislated. But without a public outcry first, that will never happen.
Reyes”™ symphony is his own public outcry.
This isn”™t the first time the artist has addressed the issue of gun violence. In 2008, he created an installation called Palas por Pistolas, where he transformed over 1,500 used weapons into shovels, which he used to plant trees.
These latest guns were given to him by the Ciudad Juarez government, which collected them from citizens as part of an incentive-for-guns program to get them off the streets.
By transforming these objects of destruction into outlets for creativity and growth, Reyes is proving that you don”™t necessarily need a loud voice to evoke change, as long as you have a strong spirit.