an orchestra of musical instruments made from weapons by pedro reyes
an orchestra of musical instruments made from weapons by pedro reyes
oct 18, 2012
an orchestra of musical instruments made from weapons by pedro reyes

an orchestra of musical instruments made from weapons by pedro reyes
a stringed instrument made from firearms
image © designboom




since 2008, mexican artist pedro reyes has been turning to weapons as a medium to address the crime rates in his native country by transforming them into objects of social engagement. he first began working with palas por pistolas, a campaign which invited citizens of the western mexican city of culiacán – a city known for high rates of gun-related deaths – to voluntarily donate illegal weapons. rewards in the form of coupons redeemable at local stores for domestic appliances and electronics, where given to those who did. the 1527 collected firearms were then crushed by steamroller, melted in a foundry and given to a major hardware store to be cast into shovels which were then distributed to a number of institutions for adults and children to participate in the action of planing 1527 trees.

reyes’ received more than 6000 weapons to create his orchestra
image © designboom




his most recent project ‘imagine’ is a set of 50 musical instruments also fabricated out of a variety of firearms including revolvers, shot-guns, machine guns etc. commissioned by alumnos 47. the undertaking developed from a simple phone call that reyes received from he government who had learned about palas por pistolas and informed the artist that there would be a public destruction of weapons taking place in ciudad juarez. they asked him if he wanted to keep the discarded metal which would otherwise be buried. armed with 6700 pieces, over the course of two weeks, working together with six musicians, he transformed the confiscated guns into a fully functioning orchestra which include a flute, guitar and drum kit.



the objects of musical destruction are on display as part of the ‘adhocracy’ exhibition, curated by joseph grima at the istanbul design biennial 2012.

image © designboom

image © designboom

magazines from various firearms
image © designboom


hat cymbal made from the discarded metal


a xylophone made from barrels
image © designboom


installation view of pedro reyes’ instruments
image © designboom


an interpreted version of the triangle
image © designboom


image © designboom


string instruments and bows


alternative exhibition view of the instruments which include cymbals, violins and guitar


a concert played using the musical instruments made from weapons
video courtesy of pedro reyes



the making of the instruments
video courtesy of pedro reyes


production of the instruments
photo by david franco for 192 courtesy of pedro reyes


testing out the flute
photo by david franco for 192 courtesy of pedro reyes

photo by david franco for 192 courtesy of pedro reyes


guitar and banjo
photo by david franco for 192 courtesy of pedro reyes


photo by david franco for 192 courtesy of pedro reyes


weapons undergoing mass destruction before being transformed into objects of social engagement
video courtesy of pedro reyes




project info:


pedro reyes, ‘imagine’, 2012
commissioned and produced by alumnos47
curated by jessica berlanga taylor for alumnos47
coordination and production: emiliano garcía and marcelo rangel valenzuela
coordination and musical direction: jazmín zepeda
music and instrument designers: omar córdova, adrián lópez, alonso lópez, josé mena, leika mochan, daniel zepeda
blacksmiths: antonio garcía salinas and arturo quiroz



istanbul design biennial
october 13th – december 12th, 2012

with the aim of underlining the importance of design for production, economy, cultural interaction and quality of life, the first istanbul design biennial will be realized in 2012 by istanbul foundation for culture and arts. istanbul design biennial will be open to all disciplines of the creative industries in major fields such as urban design, architecture, interior design, industrial design, graphic design, new media design and fashion design, as well as their subfields.

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istanbul design biennial 2012 (15 articles)