The Spirit of Utopia @ The Whitechapel Gallery

The third iteration of Sanatorium, opened on July 4th at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, as part of the exhibition The Spirit of Utopia, curated by Kirsty Ogg.
Ten artists and collectives from around the world speculate on alternative futures for the economy, the environment and society itself, asking, ‘what if?’

IMG_8130 IMG_8134IMG_8359IMG_8613IMG_8164 IMG_8143IMG_8147IMG_8261IMG_8194IMG_8222IMG_8619




By Lucinda Lovell
Lisson Gallery, London, UK


We started planning for Pedro’s exhibition many months before the event – one half of the instruments, the Imagine series, came from the Gwangju Biennale and the Istanbul Biennale; the other half, Disarm series, directly from Mexico. The Imagine instruments were in the UK by January 2013 and we then worked closely with the music producer John Coxon, to produce a record – a limited edition publication for the exhibition. Coxon called in 6 other musicians and they spent a day improvising on the instruments in the renowned RAK studios in central London. Several weeks later a beautiful Vinyl was produced featuring 12 tracks recorded on that day and album artwork taken from Pedro’s designs.


Meanwhile, Pedro Reyes and Lisson Gallery were busy working together on the content of the exhibition itself. Opening on 26th March, 2013, the exhibition featured 8 Machine Music paintings, 8 Disarm instruments – including a Xylophone, Rain Stick, Guitar, Banjo and Violin, and 9 mechanised Disarm instruments – instruments that would be continuously playing throughout the 6 week exhibition. The paintings were in the first two rooms of the gallery, greeting the visitors as they arrive; a fantastic visual mix of musical instruments and war machinery combined in a rich textual composition. Leading you into the back rooms was Disarm (Guitar) and the bright orange vinyl record on book shelves surrounding the receptionists desk. The visitor then encountered a wall covered with bright yellow posters advertising the opening event and the Disarm instruments on custom made shelves. The mechanised Disarm instruments were configured in the main gallery – occupying the space both visually and acoustically. The reaction surrounding the exhibition was tremendous from both the British Press and the visitors.


Images Courtesy of Lisson Gallery

REYE120003_1 REYE120004_1 REYE120004_3 REYE120005 REYE120005_3 REYE120006 REYE120007_1 REYE120009_1REYE120013_3 REYE120013_4 REYE120014 REYE120015 REYE120017 REYE120019 REYE120020 REYE120028_1 REYE120029 REYE120030_1 REYE120031_1 REYE120044_1 REYE120037 REYE120008 REYE120018_2Pedro Reyes_31 Pedro Reyes_9Pedro Reyes_20Pedro Reyes_11Pedro Reyes_16REYEint6sREYEint7sREYEint1sREYE130009_1sREYE130003s_MG_8555s

Disarm Concert

By Lucinda Lovell
Lisson Gallery, London, UK
Lisson Gallery was absolutely packed on the 26th March – the opening night of Pedro Reyes’ exhibition. There was a mixture of people in attendance – top collectors, art world journalists, general public and students – all excited to see the intriguing and original instruments being played. The press surrounding the exhibition had been very positive so everyone was excited to hear the instruments being played. Sol beer was the drink on offer in keeping with the Mexican theme. The opening began at 6:30pm with the concert scheduled for 7:30pm. By the time the event was approaching the whole gallery space was full and there was an air of anticipation in the audience. John Coxon led the musicians – another 6 in total – and they improvised on the instruments, well practiced from their day spent recording at RAK Studios. The ability of the musicians was incredible as they each played 4 or 5 instruments and switched between them easily. The music they played was mostly rock although the tempo and tune varied throughout. The drums gave a constant beat that couldn’t help but infect the audience and make toes start tapping. Pedro was watching from the room above – looking down on the musicians making ‘machine music’ and seeing the crowds delighted reaction. The buzz created by the musicians lasted for about 45 minutes after the concert when the gallery had to close and the musicians went off for the after party. It was an excellent evening – very memorable and enjoyable for those in attendance!
Images Courtesy of Lisson Gallery
NPP_3433sNPP_3672s NPP_3776-1s
NPP_3769sNPP_3831sNPP_3810sNPP_3387sNPP_3393s NPP_3391s NPP_3386sNPP_3358s

Sharjah Biennial 11: Melodrama and Other Games

DSC_9115 DSC_2933 DSC_2802 DSC_2716 DSC_2701 DSC_9122
Images courtesy of the artist and Sharjah Art Foundation

In Re:emerge, Towards a New Cultural Cartography, curator Yuko Hasegawa proposes a Biennial that reassess the Westerncentrism of knowledge in modern times and reconsiders the relationship between the Arab world, Asia, the Far East, through North Africa and Latin America. Read the rest of this entry »

Liverpool Biennial and FACT

Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial & FACT
Photos: Stephen King


Liverpool Biennial 2012 presents work by 242 artists in 27 locations. The festival takes place in galleries, museums and sites across the city and includes a dynamic programme of talks, events, screenings and family activities.


Melodrama and Other Games, has been commission for Liverpool Biennial 2012,  using the format of a board game as it’s starting point and considers the architecture of relationships in an increasingly commoditised environment.


Inspired by the classic game of Snakes and Ladders, Melodrama is a board game customised to reflect the ups and downs of human relationships. Other games include Mine-field, Feather Fun, and Slow-motion Fight,which are parlour games that encourage visitors to improvise new forms of social interaction with each other.

Gwangju Shooting


Just a little taste of what will be tonight’s performance at the opening of Gwangju Biennial. Destroyed weapons made into musical instruments will be used my young Korean music band “Frog in the Well”.


(Photos by David Franco for 192)


Imagine is a set of 50 musical instruments fabricated out of destroyed weapons – revolvers, shot-guns, machine-guns, etc. This work is a progression of Palas por Pistolas (2008), where 1527 weapons were melted and made into the same number of shovels to plant 1527 trees. In April this year I got a call from the government who had learned about Palas por Pistolas, they told me a public destruction of weapons was to take place in Ciudad Juarez and asked me if I was interested in keeping the metal, which would otherwise have been buried as usual. I accepted the material but I wanted to do something new this time. 6700 weapons, cut into parts and rendered useless, were given to me and I set out to make them into instruments.


A group of 6 musicians worked for 2 weeks shoulder-to-shoulder turning these agents of death into instruments of life. The task was challenging but they succeeded in extracting sounds, from percussion to wind and string. It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical. It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost.


This is also a call to action, since we cannot stop the violence only at the place where the weapons are being used, but also where they are made. There is a disparity between visible and invisible violence. The nearly 80,000 deaths by gun-shot that have occurred in Mexico in the last 6 years, or the school shootings in the US are the visible side of violence. The invisible side is that one of gun trade-shows, neglecting assault rifle bans, and shareholder profit from public companies. This is a large industry of death and suffering for which no cultural rejection is expressed.Guns continue to be depicted as something sexy both in Hollywood and in videogames; there may be actors who won’t smoke on the screen, but there has not been one who would reject the role of a trigger-happy hero.


In the last century there has been organized movements for gay rights, gender and race equality and the environment, yet we still need to express our desire for a world without weapons. Living in a community free of guns ought to be a human right. Many liberties that we enjoy today were once considered utopian, and the first step taken into that direction was to Imagine.





Pedro Reyes, Imagine, 2012.

Alumnos47. Comisión y producción

Jessica Berlanga Taylor. Curadora de Proyecto Líquido para Alumnos47.

Emiliano García y Marcelo Rangel Valenzuela. Coordinación de producción

Jazmín Zepeda. Coordinación y dirección musical

Omar Córdova. Adrián López. Alonso López. José Mena. Leika Mochan. Daniel Zepeda. Músicos y diseñadores de instrumentos.

Antonio García Salinas. Herrero artesano
Arturo Quiroz. Herrero artesano

Baby Marx @ Art Basel Parcours



















































Puppeteers, Janaki Ranpura (left, with Adam Smith),  Mel Myland (right, with Karl Marx) and artist Pedro Reyes (center).


Art Parcours saw the enlivenment of video installation, Baby Marx (2008-present), into a live puppet show. The original work is a growing video production based on the nineteenth century debate between socialism and capitalism featuring Adam Smith and Karl Marx as the main characters in a puppet show directed at children.  In the hypothetical debate the ensues between the characters, they express their differing political ideologies in a palatable way and discuss topics ranging from Occupy Wall Street to Warhol. Historically the puppeteer has been able to challenge and mock without recourse and in this live performance that examines the free flow of opposing ideas, everything is up for question.


Puppet-show Performances

Wed June 13/4pm/5pm/6pm/7pm/8pm/9pm/10pm/11pm

Thurs-Sat Jun 14-16 /4pm/5pm/6pm/7pm/8pm/9pm

Sun Jun 17 3pm/4pm/5pm/6pm


Ackermannshof, Philosophicum – These rooms include a richly decorated banquet and dining room from the Renaissance period.  The bright, still surviving murals date from the Middle Ages.  In some cases it is difficult to see what they are about, since only parts of them are visible.  The ceiling is supported by solid old wooden beams.


Photo Courtesy of Gabriel Stux


During the 100 day exhibition, SANATORIUM, located at Baroque Karlsaue Park, will be featured among 100’s of artists at this years dOCUMENTA(13).


Report on the Sanatorium from tagr.TV



What is the SANATORIUM?

The Sanatorium is a transient clinic that provides short unexpected treatments that mix art and psychology. In order to experience this project you have to sign up as a patient and participate in sessions which may be individual or in groups. The receptionist will ask you some questions. Please feel free to tell them if there is any particular situation in this present time that you would like to address, and we will try to assign a therapy according to your needs.


Where do these therapies come from?

Each therapy has a documented genealogy. They are mixtures and variations of existing techniques such as Gestalt psychology, theater warm-up exercises, fluxus events, conflict resolution techniques, shamanism, corporate coaching, yoga, psychodrama, hypnosis, etc.


How can therapy help me?

There are several ways therapy can help you. Perhaps you have an important decision to make, a past trauma to overcome, future plans to make, you may be looking for clarity, or to release anger, or reconcile with someone, etc. If nothing else, we expect you to have an interesting time.


What if I don’t have a problem?

Our approach to therapy is not necessarily problem-centered. Therapies can also be an extensional device1 to enhance your present state. These activities may help you to find something akin to the sweet spot2 on a bat or racket, the point at which it makes most effective contact with the ball.


Will I see any significant change?

These therapies have a humble goal; they may be a mild remedy to mild afflictions, similar to a psychological first-aid kit. In the Sanatorium the raw material is your own personal narrative. You will play a part in a session with a therapist and possibly random strangers. In general, the Sanatorium is a happy place that has a plethora of insights. Not only may you make meaningful discoveries about your own life, but you can help others. Something you say may bring unexpected awareness to another person.


How is a therapy session structured?

Each therapy has a performative aspect similar to a ritual: there is an introduction, a development, and a closure. It should last less than half an hour in total.


Are there spiritual, religious, or shamanic elements in the Sanatorium?

Some therapies make reference to spiritual, religious, or shamanic sources. Throughout history meditation and rituals have served to modify our psychodynamics and reconcile interpersonal space. However, these benefits remain out of reach for those who don’t subscribe to these particular belief systems or cultural frameworks. The Sanatorium is interested in finding the essence of a ritual so that it can function outside its anthropological specificity. The idea is to strip the procedure of its aura and make it accessible in a secular environment.


Who can be a therapist?

We often think that the process of a therapy or ritual may only be effective if carried out by a “legitimate” agent such as a priest, a shaman, an artist, a scientist, etc. The Sanatorium’s aim is not to replace existing systems, but to introduce a new space for encounter where ordinary people can meet one-on-one, a horizontal association run by volunteers and temporary workers. We create, test and improve therapies so they can be safely conducted by someone without credentials. By means of de-professionalization of therapy, the sessions may escorted by

grounds, incomes and belief systems. The Sanatorium’s goal is not only to offer relief, but also to create a space where people can also help and be useful to others. Helping has a therapeutic effect in itself.


Is this real therapy or is it quackery?

The Sanatorium was conceived as a delivery system of placebos, therapies that put into action self-suggestion mechanisms. In this sense, it is similar to quackery but with a fundamental difference: in quackery the patient is led to believe a lie, while in the Sanatorium you are told upfront that this is not real, and it is up to you to believe. In practice, when you enter the Sanatorium you sign a paper acknowledging that this is not a real hospital, and these are not real therapists. Paradoxically, the mind loves cognitive dissonance, that is to say, being aware that you are telling yourself a lie won’t necessarily prevent you from believing in it. The hypnotic adoption of an idea that one has created for oneself can be an effective way to initiate behavioral change.


How many therapies exist in the Sanatorium? 

Up to date there have been 16 therapies that have been tested. In dOCUMENTA (13) Sanatorium is featuring 8 basic therapies and more therapies will be developed in collaboration with the participants from HEAD (Haute école d’art de et design Genève) over its 100 days of operation.


What is Sociatry?

Therapy as we know it today is a luxury beyond reach for most of society, and in response for our present psychological afflictions there has been an excessive reliance on antidepressants and other prescription drugs. Today, some of our biggest health challenges are iatrogenic, meaning that these very challenges stem from a previous therapy prescribed by a physician. In the U.S. the number of prescription drug-related deaths rose from 6,000 in 1990 to 27,658 in 2007. Each year at least 106,000 people die from the drugs they’re prescribed and administered, while illegal drugs result in around 10% as many deaths.


As things stand, prescription drugs are legal and consumption is culturally accepted. Obviously, these drugs are in many cases truly necessary and there would be much suffering without them. That said, studies show that cases of unnecessary prescriptions outnumber the necessary, resulting in an ever-larger number of addicts, much for the profit of big pharmaceutical labs.


Sociatry is a term to describe the science and art of healing society. This notion was first articulated by Jacob Levi Moreno in 1930. At that time it gained currency and then around 1950 fell into oblivion. Today, especially in cities, there is a vast population of unattended victims of depression, loneliness, neurosis, family violence, suicide, and other pathologies. Social Psychology has instruments of diagnosis, but it falls short in the creation of cost-effective methods that can be implemented to the world’s ever-increasing population.


Working structures similar to the Sanatorium could be a means to regaining agency within the original intentions of Sociatry.


Will there be more Sanatoriums?

Looking for alternative methods other than drugs to restore sanity in society, the Sanatorium thinks of itself as a prototype that could evolve into a “Social Franchise”, which beyond the pure drive for profit could result in large-scale social good.

As accessibility is crucial, the Sanatorium hopes to depart from the sphere of art into the wider arena of culture, almost as a roadside attraction and deemed entertainment for families, friends, school groups, etc.


Click on map for larger view.


Marx and Smith at Occupy Wall Street

Karl Marx and Adam Smith bump into each other at the Occupy Wall Street in Liberty Plaza. Marx sees in the current economic crisis the self-destruction of capitalism that he predicted 200 years ago, an opportunity to revive socialism. Smith sees in it a different opportunity… Inside the precarious tents, the resistance goes on, in a place that the privileged few have fled in a golden parachute.