It's an orchestra like no other. Artist Pedro Reyes and a team of musicians engineer 50 amazing-looking musical instruments from destroyed Mexican weapons as a statement on violence in the country.
For his project Imagine," Mexico City-based artist Pedro Reyes oversaw the transformation of more than 6,000 confiscated weapons -- revolvers, shotguns, machine guns -- into working musical instruments.
From afar it looks like an offbeat banjo, but look closely and you'll spot several pistols. Mexico City-based artist Pedro Reyes and a group of musicians transformed more than 6,000 confiscated weapons into an orchestra of working instruments, including a flute, guitar, and drum kit.
A working percussion instrument made from the scrap metal that once made up Mexican weapons. "It's difficult to explain, but the transformation was more than physical," artist Pedro Reyes says. "It's important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost."
The weapons that comprise the "Imagine" instruments were once scheduled for public destruction in the notoriously dangerous Cuidad Juarez. Six musicians worked for two weeks "turning these agents of death into instruments of life," artist Pedro Reyes says.
Extracting sound from the destroyed weapons was "challenging," Pedro Reyes said, but the artists managed to create functioning percussion, wind, and string instruments. As we've previously seen with instruments made from dumpster trash and vintage luggage, music can come from unlikely places.
"Imagine" originated from an earlier Reyes venture called "Palas por Pistolas," which invited the public to exchange firearms for vouchers and electric appliances. The project then involved crushing and melting 1,527 weapons and remolding them into the same number of shovels to plant 1,527 trees. Reyes says he got a call earlier this year from government officials who had learned of "Palas por Pistolas" and wanted to know if Reyes was interested in working with the metal from a new crop of confiscated instruments.
Some of the "Imagine" instruments -- such as this flute -- sound remarkably like their more traditional counterparts, as the video below demonstrates. Reyes calls the "Imagine" project "a requiem for lives lost."