Pedro Reyes

2024 Summer Series Speaker

Pedro Reyes (b. 1972, Mexico City) studied architecture but considers himself a sculptor. Although his works integrate elements of theater, psychology and activism. His work takes a variety of forms, from penetrable sculptures (Cápulas, 2002-08) to puppet productions (La Revolución Permanente, 2014), (Fabricando travesuras, 2018). In 2008, Reyes initiated the ongoing Palas por Pistolas project in which 1,527 guns were collected in Mexico through a voluntary donation campaign to produce the same number of shovels to plant 1,527 trees. This led to Disarm (2012), where 6,700 destroyed guns were transformed into a series of musical instruments. In 2011, Reyes started Sanatorium, a transient clinic offering brief unexpected treatments mixing art and psychology. Originally commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum, New York, Sanatorium has been in operation at Documenta 13, Kassel (2012), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013), The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2014) and OCA, São Paulo (2015) among 10 other venues.

In 2013, he presented the first edition of pUN: The People’s United Nations at the Queens Museum in New York. pUN is an experimental conference in which ordinary citizens act as delegates from each of the UN countries and try to apply techniques and resources from social psychology, theater, art and conflict resolution to geopolitics. The second edition of pUN was held at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2015). The third pUN General Assembly took place in December 2015 at the 21st Century Museum in Kanazawa, Japan.

In 2015, he received the U.S. State Department Medal for the Arts and the Ford Foundation Fellowship. In late 2016, he presented Doomocracy, an immersive theatrical installation commissioned by Creative Time. He held a visiting faculty position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the fall of 2016, and held his residency at MIT CAST as the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist. In addition, continuing his work with firearms, Pedro Reyes presented Return to Sender (2020) at the Tinguely Museum in Basel, which consists of a series of music boxes constructed from gun parts. Each box reproduces a well-known classical piece from the country of origin of the respective manufacturer. For Austria, a music box made from Glock gun parts plays Mozart; for Italy, Beretta guns play Vivaldi, etc. Alluding to the fact that the problem of violence begins in the factory where the guns are made. Recently, Pedro Reyes was commissioned by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists together with ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, winners of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, to raise awareness of the growing risk of nuclear conflict, for which he developed Atomic Amnesia to be presented in Times Square, NYC May 2022. For his work on disarmament, Reyes received the Luxembourg Peace Prize in 2021. At the same time, he inaugurated his largest exhibition to date in Mexico, at the Museo Marco in Monterrey. In 2022 Reyes had his first solo exhibition in Europe, at the Marta Herford Museum in Germany, where he presented a large body of his early work. 

Starting 2023, DIRECT ACTION was presented at SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico followed by his Lisson Gallery show at Los Angeles. Following the Amnesia Atomic project he developed Artists Against the Bomb, an editorial and art project that gathers international artists to create a collection of posters portraying messages urgently calling for universal nuclear disarmament. The project will be presented at the United Nations and the Judd Foundation in New York City, it has also been presented at several venues including Viena, Berlin, Oslo and Hiroshima.

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