Pedro Reyes

by Lotta Ortheil

Noises, metallic – occasional, arrive and disappear. Until we also rise like a swarm of bees, getting slowly louder, rumble. And sometimes I scream, we all scream. Furious and above all powerful.

A concert with instruments constructed of arms. Firearms which once served the Mexican Army. Originally meant to hurt. A nice image.

Pedro Reyes: ‹The Mexican artist who makes musical instruments from firearms.›1 That is easily explained and everybody likes it. Clearly, bad objects are transformed into peaceful objects, on top of that by an artist, what a good cause.

However, Pedro Reyes is not only interested in the material process of remodelling objects. The objects rather become catalytic converters for collective actions. At different places ‹resistance identities›2 are coming tem­ porarily into being: people who remodel arms – local musicians who impro­ vise on the just built instruments – an audience that listens.

However, does the performance provide anything but a nice image?

No, it does not. The error that can be easily made consists precisely in believing that such an action is one possible – or even the – solution for actual, social problems in Mexico to come to the conclusion that art will change the world. Pedro Reyes rather points out how urgent it is right now to become active and to resist. His projects are an impetus ‹for social and psychological transformation›3. He draws up one strategy to take some guns out of circulation. However, such an action only gains relevance if fur­ther actions follow and if that happens in conjunction with different social and political instances. Art therefore cannot alone lead to a structural change but must be embedded in a more far­reaching context. The strength and relevance Imagine finds in the symbolic field by making clear that such a complex intertwined system of power structures (political and crimi­nal) is not a blind alley. A strong optimism lies behind: not to give up butto search creatively for alternative ways. Such an action can gain weight if it becomes the starting point for a chain of actions. Furious we are. Powerful not, however, until we carry further that collectively gained energy.

  • 1. Suzannah Hills: ‹Death Metal: The Mexican artist who makes musical instruments from firearms›, article­2278575/Pedro­Reyes­The­Mexican­artist­makes­musical­ instruments­firearms.html, query: 18.02.2015.
  • 2. Manuel Castells: ‹The Power of Identity›, 2009 (2nd edition).
  • 3. Laura Feinstein: ‹From Guns To Drums: Pedro Reyes Turns Weapons Of Hate Into Musical Instruments›, from­guns­to­drums­pedro­reyes, query: 18.02.2015.