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Cover Image: Peter Macdiarmid (GETTY)

Mexican artist Pedro Reyes often work with a political agenda in his mind. Partly due to the level of crime in his homeland, where drug mules rule the streets, it’s not hard to see violence and bloodshed.

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With that, Reyes created ‘Palas por Pistolas (2008), where he worked with local authorities in Culiacán, Mexico, to melt down guns into shovels, intended to plant trees in cities elsewhere in the world. Now in 2013, as part of his ongoing effort to transform weapons, Pedro Reyes create ‘Disarm’ where he turns confiscated firearms into mechanical musical instruments. The collection of eight new instruments were built through a collaboration with several musicians and Cocolab, a media studio in Mexico City.

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The various parts of these automatons are recognizable as shotguns, pistols and rifles; while they no longer pose the threat of physical harm, they keep the sheer might of their most recent purpose. Now, these former arms strum, ring, crash, hum, and vibrate at different volumes and intensities to express elaborate compositions with a wide range of sonic nuances. 

Making art about guns, you can easily be seduced by the object itself, so the result may wind up praising or glorifying the object rather than critiquing it. Because of the pacifist purpose of this project, the message has to be clear so that the idea has currency for a general audience.

Previously, Pedro Reyes has worked on some 6,700 firearms, making them into functional objects in this work titled ‘Imagine’

Also check out the video below on how the musical instruments worked.

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