Pedro Reyes (b. 1972)

On Alienation. Karl Marx and Adam Smith (2011)
Baby Marx Episode 1 On Surplus Value (2011)

Pedro Reyes has won international attention for large-scale projects that take existing social problems and imagine solutions for a happier world. His political stance, use of found materials and disavowal of the corporate mentality sets him in the wake of Arte Povera, most keenly so in his tackling of gun culture in Mexico. In Palas por Pistolas (2008), Reyes worked with local authorities in Culiacán, Mexico, to melt down guns into shovels, intended to plant trees in cities elsewhere in the world. ‘I am on a crusade to come up with creative initiatives to disarm all these cities’, Reyes says (2013). Similarly for Disarm (2013) the Mexican government passed over 6,700 confiscated firearms for Reyes to turn into mechanical musical instruments, which are automated to play a delightful, if surreal loop, retaining the raw emotion of their origination. Other works tackle first world problems through participatory techniques. Sanatorium (2011) invites visitors to sign up for a ‘temporary clinic’, with the mission of treating various kinds of urban malaise. Therapies such as trust-building games and hypnosis are offered to combat common problems such as loneliness and stress. The conclusion to the Sanatorium manifesto inflects Reyes’s big ambition with a healthy sense of the absurd.