Pedro Reyes (b.1972, Mexico)

Pedro Reyes works on an expanded notion of sculpture that examines the cognitive contradictions of modern life and proposes surprising solutions that are at the same time simple and complex, metaphorical and functional. Informed by a wide array of references, his work addresses the interplay between physical and social space, making tangible the invisible geometry of interpersonal relationships and calling for political and economical participation. Less interested in critiquing institutions, but rather in re-imagining them, Reyes uses art as a way to encourage collective and individual agency and to establish a currency that can be applied to everyday practice in the face of human, political and ecological crisis. Operating on the interplay of architecture, design, language and video, his works take on a variety of forms, from penetrable vinyl sculptures inspired by organic or mineral formations that are both artworks and usable structures for reclining, socializing and dialogue (Capulas, 2002-10), to a TV and short-film productions based on the nineteenth century debate between socialism and capitalism featuring Karl Marx and Adam Smith as the main characters in a puppet show, Baby Marx (2009-present), on display at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, in 2011.

In 2008 Reyes initiated his ongoing project Palas por Pistolas in Pre Culiacán, a city in western Mexico with a high rate of deaths by gunshot. Together with local authorities he started a campaign to collect weapons from citizens, in exchange for other useful items such as food coupons or electronics. 1527 guns were collected, 40% of them high power automatic weapons of exclusive military use. In a public act, the guns were crushed by a steamroller and the metal melted to produce 1527 shovels with which 1527 trees were planted in collaboration with the botanical garden of Culiacán.  Currently, Reyes is under-taking a Bi-National planting effort where trees will be planted in 10 cities across the US-Mexico   border. Reminiscent of Joseph Beuys iconic 7000 Oaks (1982-87), the work expands the notion of social plastic with a direct act of exchange and civic demilitarization. 

In 2012, this project expanded into Imagine (2012), where more weapons that were donated by the Mexican Military have been turned into instruments by musicians and artisans, funded by Alumnos47 Foundation.  Imagine was exhibited at the Gwangju Biennial and the Istanbul Design Biennial in 2012. A new set of mechanized instruments called, Disarm was shown for the first time at Lisson Gallery, London, in 2013, and will also be exhibited at the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, 2013. 

In addition to his current projects, Reyes made an off-site project for the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, called Sanatorium (2011-present), a utopian “temporary clinic” designed to offer topical treatments for urban illnesses: stress, loneliness or hyper-stimulation. To experience the project it is necessary to check oneself in as a patient. After a short interview by a therapist one is diagnosed and assigned 2/3 therapies. These short treatments draw sources from different schools of psychology such as Gestalt, psychodrama, hypnosis, theater of the oppressed, shamanic practices, fluxus happenings, etc.  Based on ideas of institutional, scientific and disciplinary transgression, the project is intended as a delivery system of placebos.  The plasticity of these activities and the personal investment of the patient, make the healing processes tangible beyond the symbolic level of the operation. A prototype of what could become public service, Sanatorium aims to recover the idea of Sociatry-a term from the 1930’s for the art of healing society.  The third iteration of Sanatorium will be at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2013.   

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Reyes, Pedro b.1972

related artists / Mexico / Latin America