Guns to Drums: An Orchestra Made of Old Weapons

© Istanbul Design Biennial. Part of a drum kit by Pedro Reyes.

The sound of gunshots has been transformed into the sound of music in Mexico's Ciudad Juárez, where artist Pedro Reyes turned 6,700 confiscated weapons into a complete orchestra of fully playable musical instruments.

Reyes, who is based in Mexico City, worked with a group of six musicians to turn revolvers, shotguns, and machine guns into 50 wind, percussion, and string instruments, a project he calls "Imagine."


Video: Pedro Reyes on Vimeo.

"The task was challenging but they succeeded in extracting sounds," Reyes writes on his website. "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."

Pistols For Tree-Planting
The artist was tapped by the Ciudad Juárez government to receive the decommissioned weapons thanks to a previous project called "Palas por Pistolas," in which he had 1,527 crushed and melted-down weapons collected in the city of Culiacán made into the same number of shovels to plant 1,527 trees.

© Istanbul Design Biennial. A stringed instrument by Pedro Reyes.

Reyes has taken the shovels to art institutions and schools around the world where trees are planted to, as he puts it, "show how an agent of death can become an agent of life."

The "Imagine" orchestra is on display through December 12 at the Galata Greek Primary School in Istanbul as part of the Istanbul Design Biennial.

Tags: Artists | Exhibits | Mexico | Music | Recycling | Turkey