Pedro Reyes (b.1972, Mexico City) is a multidisciplinary Mexican artist who uses sculpture, architecture, video, performance, and interactive participation to present his artistic ideas and work. As an important artistic figure, Reyes’ work demands attention from the public for its strong messages and lessons for all of humanity to listen to. Reyes is a conscience man who is troubled by the inequality and violence that beholds the world. Pedro lives and works thinking of ways to improve lives through artistic expression. Another way he chooses to promotes his ideals through his work is by acting as a creative polyglot, involving himself in serval mediums, including sculpture, performance, music, and painting.
Pedro Reyes attended the Ibero-American University in Mexico City, where he focused on architecture – with a particular sensibility for the construction history. After graduating, Reyes moved away from architecture and turned to the world of sculpture. It was this medium that allowed him to achieve the goals he was looking to achieve through art.
What has distinguished Reyes’s sculptural work is his in-satisfaction with creating pieces simply from stone or metal. He approached the material similar to the famous Arte Povera, a 1960 Italian artistic movement, combining conceptual, minimalist, and performance art aspects. Reyes started using found materials and creating sculptures from them that would convey particular social and political messages. One example is when he took an assault rifle and transformed it into an object that opposed its original concept, in this case, a violin. Pedro was starting to use simple instruments and casual scenarios to blend the realms of utopia with function, individual fantasies, and collective aspirations.
The first significant project of his career was Torre de Los Vientos, an experimental project space in Mexico City that operated from 1996-2002. It was here he started creating his first pieces. His visionary has determined the course of Pedro’s career. His goal has always been to raise awareness and redeem technologies that are neither good nor bad by themselves. The perception of these objects is dependent on their use.
Another famous example of his practice that incorporated theater, psychology, and activism was Palas por Pistolas.This project saw him tackling guns and the problem they represent in his home country of Mexico. The project presented an entirely new narrative for these weapons as he had them melted down and turned into shovels and used to plant trees and plants. Inspired by a trip he took to a government plant where government officials turn seized weapons into raw materials, taken as part of that Shovels for Guns project, Reyes decided to turn these instruments of hate into literal instruments. Five years later, the Mexican government passed over 6,700 confiscated firearms for Reyes to turn into mechanical musical instruments. Another unique form Pedro’s art takes are like therapies of trust-building games that combat lighter first-world problems, such as loneliness and stress.
In 2013, he presented the first edition of pUN: The People’s United Nations at Queens Museum in New York City. pUN is an experimental conference in which regular citizens act as delegates for each of the countries in the UN and seek to apply techniques and resources from social psychology, theater, art, and conflict resolution to geopolitics.
pUN’s second edition took place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2015). The third General Assembly of pUN took place in December 2015 at the Museum of the 21st century in Kanazawa, Japan. In 2015, he received the U.S. State Department Medal for the Arts and the Ford Foundation Fellowship. In late 2016, he presented Doomocracy, an immersive theatre installation commissioned by Creative Time. He held a visiting scholar position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the fall of 2016. He is currently conducting his residency at MIT’s CAST as the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist. In 2018, he presented Manufacturing Mischief, a satirical puppet play featuring Noam Chomsky, Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Elon Musk, and Tiny Trump. Manufacturing Mischief first premiered in Boston at MIT and has been presented at Carnegie Mellon University, Canadian Stage in Toronto, The Tank in New York City, and exhibited at Park Nights at the Serpentine Galleries in London. In addition to his artistic practice, Pedro Reyes has curated numerous shows and often contributes to art and architectural publications. He lives and works in Mexico City.
ENQUIRE ABOUT THE DESIGNER