Weapons are instruments of war and destruction, but can they be re-purposed? Their negative impact on society is evident in artist Pedro Reyes’s native Mexico where criminal violence is a serious problem.
The Government has held several amnesties where all the weapons received have been rendered useless by running over them with tanks and steamrollers. These were then offered to Reyes who has found a new use for them by converting them into musical instruments, so that they may have a positive impact on people’s lives. These works are designed to convey a strong message and they do so in an inventive manner.
The use of assault rifle clips to make up the body of a guitar and the use of pistols in the base of a xylophone show Reyes to be innovative, but it’s the fact that they are all in tune and produce music that is the real achievement. Unfortunately visitors can’t play the instruments themselves but their output will be played via speakers throughout the exhibition so you can hear what they sound like.
Accompanying these are some playful collages where machines of war and musical instruments are combined so that a rocket launcher is firing a harp and a tank has an organ in place of a turret. These are much lighter works and though enjoyable, lack the punch of the other exhibits.
Reyes’s work sends a strong positive message about how much better life is without violence. Sure, he’s not the first artist from Central America to cover this theme, but his innovative style is both eye-catching and impressive.
Pedro Reyes: Disarm is on at Lisson Gallery, 29 Bell street, NW1 5BY until 4 May. Admission is free.