Art + Engineering: Pedro Reyes on the beauty of non-directed research [Video]

Pedro Reyes (b. 1972, Mexico City) has won international attention for large-scale projects that address current social and political issues. The artist’s works integrate elements of theater, psychology and activism and take on a variety of forms, from penetrable sculptures (Capulas, 2002-08) to puppet productions (Baby Marx, 2008; The Permanent Revolution, 2014).

In 2008 Reyes commenced Palas por Pistolas, a project that collected over 1,500 guns from donors throughout Mexico and melted them down into shovels. With those shovels, Reyes and his studio planted 1,500 trees. The program’s success garnered attention from the Mexican Army, who donated 6,700 weapons to the artist. These became the basis for Disarm (2013), which converted the donated military weapons into self-playing musical instruments.

In May 2017. Reyes visited Northwestern as part of an ongoing Art + Engineering collaboration between the Block Museum of Art and the McCormick School of Engineering.  During a weeklong visit Reyes met with faculty throughout the school to discuss their research and his own.  In public lectures at McCormick and the Block, Reyes discussed the creation of participatory projects and his work as MIT’s inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist.  The artist also took the time to sit down with Susy Bielak, the Block’s Curator of Public Practice / Associate Director of Engagement to discuss the value of art and science collaborations.  “For lack of a better word…I use the term ‘intellectual promiscuity.’ I think it is very import just to venture into other territories and find other people,” the artist notes.

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