PEDRO REYES

Sounds of Disarm is the sound work of artist Pedro Reyes composed on the occasion of his sound exhibition at OTO SOUND MUSEUM platform in 2023. Starting in 2007, the artist initiated the practice of 'disarm' by transforming more than 1500 guns from Mexico into shovels ready to be used for digging and planting trees. Through the casting of 1527 guns - which are thus taken off the market - 1500 trees are in fact planted. This first work entitled 'Palas por Pistolas', still ongoing, immediately triggers that generative process capable of manipulating the function of an object, of changing its polarities and shaping its semantics: 'an instrument of death becomes an instrument of life'. An object of violence is converted into its opposite, through a process of re-signification and re-invention that passes through the transmutation of matter and its symbolic conversion. In a short time, the artist manages to collect over 7000 weapons that are donated to him and that he decides this time to transform into musical instruments - 'disarming instruments' as Reyes calls them. From the weapons come string instruments, air instruments, percussion instruments, later played all over the world by musicians and performers who also compose dedicated scores, who measure themselves with the material and its unexpected musicality, used on occasions of the March for our Lives and non-violence demonstrations, often also made to resonate through orchestrated mechanical automation. A gun can no longer kill but, on the contrary, generate sound matter. Sounds of Disarm (2023) originates from the elaboration of a part of the artist's archive composed of sound tracks, recordings and audio documentation related to the practice of disarming, collected over several years and in multiple geographies. The voice of Pedro Reyes takes us inside this sonic journey, which moves between Mexico, Turkey, South Korea and the United States. Like an exceptional narrator – in the wake of those who introduce each track in recorded classical music – he intimately recounts each musical sample, restoring the socio-political contexts, imaginaries and chronicle events, and at the same time delivering a powerful message, a ‘call to disarm’ to which each of us is asked to react.

Pedro Reyes

(b. 1972, Mexico City) works on large-scale projects that address current social and political issues. Through a varied practice utilising sculpture, performance, video, and activism, Reyes explores the power of individual and collective organisation to incite change through communication, creativity, happiness, and humour. A socio-political critique of contemporary gun culture is addressed in Reyes’s ongoing Palas por Pistolas. Similarly, in Reyes’ major continuing Disarm series, firearms confiscated by the Mexican government and donated to Reyes have been transformed into instruments, which are then activated by local musicians. Issues of community and compassion are addressed in Sanatorium, activated at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (2011), dOCUMENTA 13, Kassel, Germany (2012), The Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2013) and at The Power Plant in Toronto and The Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami (2014). In this work, visitors are invited to sign up for a ‘temporary clinic,’ with the mission of treating various kinds of urban malaise. His immersive exhibition Doomocracy, organised by Creative Time at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, was a ‘political house of horrors’ marking the confluence of two events haunting the American cultural imagination at the time: Halloween and the 2016 US presidential election. Most recently, Reyes has worked with The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and ICAN to stage anti-nuclear protests and performances across the world. Titled, Amnesia Atómica ZERO NUKES, this movement has found platforms in New York; Mexico City; Vienna and Oslo. Reyes lives and works in Mexico City. He studied architecture at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City. Solo exhibitions have been held with SITE Santa Fe, NM, USA (2023); MARTa Herford, Herford, Germany (2022); Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico (2022); MAAT, Lisbon, Portugal (2021); Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland (2020); SCAD, Georgia, USA (2019); Creative Time, New York, USA (2016); Dallas Contemporary, TX, USA (2016); La Tallera, Cuernavaca, Mexico (2016); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2015); ICA, Miami, FL, USA (2014); The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2014); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA (2011); Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, USA (2011); CCA Kitakyushu, Japan (2009); Bass Museum, Miami, FL, USA (2008;) and San Francisco Art Institute, CA, USA (2008). Reyes has participated in group exhibitions at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2015); The National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI), Rome (2015); Beijing Biennale, China (2014); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2013); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012); Liverpool Biennial, UK (2012); Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2012); Lyon Biennale, France (2009); and the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy (2003). In Fall 2016, Reyes served as the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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