Pedro Reyes (b. 1972, Mexico City) has won international attention for large-scale projects that address current social and political issues. Through a varied practice utilizing sculpture, performance, video, and activism, Reyes explores the power of individual and collective organization to incite change through communication, creativity, happiness, and humour.
A socio-political critique of contemporary gun culture is addressed in Reyes’s Palas por Pistolas (2008), in which the artist worked with local authorities in Culiacán, Mexico, to melt down guns into shovels, intended to plant trees in cities elsewhere in the world. Similarly, in Disarm (2013) the Mexican government donated over 6,700 confiscated firearms for Reyes to transform into mechanical musical instruments, which are automated to play a delightful, if surreal loop, retaining the raw emotion of their origination.
Issues of community and compassion are addressed in Sanatorium, activated at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2011, dOCUMENTA (13) in Germany in 2012, and in 2014 at The Power Plant in Toronto and The Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami. In this work, visitors are invited 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, creating a democratization of therapy.
In Fall 2016, Reyes presented Doomocracy in the Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York. Organized by Creative Time, the “political house of horrors” was an immersive exhibition marking the confluence of two events haunting the American cultural imagination at the time: Halloween and the 2016 presidential election. Presented in the form of a haunted house, visitors navigated a labyrinth of rooms to explore the complexities of political anxiety, with the intention of fostering dialogue around the contentious state of global politics.
Reyes lives and works in Mexico City. He studied architecture at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City. Solo exhibitions include Creative Time, New York, USA (2016); Dallas Contemporary, Texas, USA (2016); La Tallera, Cuernavaca, Mexico (2016); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2015); ICA, Miami, FL, USA (2014); The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2014); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA (2011); Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (2011); CCA Kitakyushu, Japan (2009); Bass Museum, Miami, FL, USA (2008) and San Francisco Art Institute, CA, USA (2008). Group exhibitions include 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2015); The National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI), Rome (2015); Beijing Biennale, China (2014); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2013); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012); Liverpool Biennial, UK (2012); Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2012); Lyon Biennale, France (2009); and the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy (2003). In Fall 2016, Reyes served as the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.