Firearms turned into musical instruments in Mexico

Mexico City, April 29 (IANS/EFE) Some of the firearms used in the killings of thousands of people in Mexico have gained new uses in the hands of artist Pedro Reyes, who is turning these instruments of death into musical instruments that raise awareness of peace.

"The idea is to transform an agent of death into an agent of life. If arms can make entire cities live in fear and prevent people from leaving their homes, music does exactly the opposite, allowing people to reclaim public spaces and letting all people have a space to co-exist," the artist said in an interview with EFE.

Reyes, for example, turns ammunition clips from AK-47s into the body of an electric guitar.

"It's all about converting all the negative things that firearms have into something positive. The transformation that the physical matter is undergoing is the transformation that we want to see in society. We believe that the best way to change the world is via art and creativity," Reyes said.

Reyes has been working with arms as a material since 2007, when he organized a voluntary gun donation campaign in Culiacan, the capital of the northwestern state of Sinaloa, one of the regions most affected by the wave of drug-related violence that official figures estimate has left more than 70,000 dead in Mexico.

Firearms donated during the campaign were melted down and turned into shovels to plant trees.

That campaign led to an offer of an arsenal destroyed in Ciudad Juarez, located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, inspiring the artist to go beyond guns to grenade launchers, machine guns, shotguns and other weapons seized from drug cartels in northern Mexico.

Reyes received 500 crates containing more than 6,700 weapons.

The crates were opened and their contents examined by musician Edi Kistler, who advised the sculptor on the musical possibilities of the items.

Reyes has made about 70 instruments, the majority of them intended to be played by musicians or displayed at exhibitions.

Some of the instruments are being sold by Mexico City's Labor Gallery for up to $60,000 (46,000 euros).

--IANS/EFE

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