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