an orchestra of musical instruments made from weapons by pedro reyes
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

lyre 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.

  • Maybe he can supply the Juarez Orchestra. They would get a lot of funeral bookings. Sick.

    jim C. says:
  • It reminds me what in 2003 the colombian musician cesar lopez made with his “escopetarra” project. very clever… it combines duchamp´s geniality and a naivley perspective of the colombian conflict. his work is like a master piece disposed in museums like damian´s hirst, and his fellow supporters would might be the onu, juanes and shakira… genioss!

    Yorchdelaselva says:
  • Ah, yes, Cesar Lopez, he plagiarized this instrument from jamaican singer Peter Tosh. What I don\’t like about Cesar Lopez is that he never acknowledges that he is a plagiarist, and always shows the idea as his own.

    Here is Peter Tosh in his last concert in 1983 fighting with his music and his rifle-guitar to abolish apartheid in South Africa to achieve peace in that country at that time.

    Robert P. says:

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