Lyon Biennale – Pedro Reyes

Lyon’s 10th Biennale for Contemporary Art, titled The Spectacle of the Everyday, closed on January 3, 2010. There were so many works and ideas i wanted to blog about that i didn’t write anything. So far. While i’m working on the big Biennale post, here’s a few words about two works by one of today’s most interesting artists.

3961911172_53c1bd7977_b.jpgPedro REYES, Palas Por Pistolas (Pistols Into Spades), detail, 2008
50 shovels detroyed with decovered metal from 1527 destroyed weapons voluntary donated from the population of Culiacan Mexico. Photo : Balise Adilon

Pedro Reyes does the most thoughtful, honest socially-engaged works.

Palas Por Pistolas (“Pistols into Spades”) is a row of seemingly mundane garden shovels. The tools were made using the metal of 1 527 weapons collected in Culiacán, a city in western Mexico that counts the highest number of handgun deaths in the country. Almost everybody in the city knows someone or has a family member who has been killed. Reyes, in collaboration with the Culiacán Botanical Garden, invited people to exchange firearms for food stamps. The firearms were crushed by a steamroller, melted and refashioned into 1 527 gardening tools.

0apalasparatposi90.jpgPedro REYES, Palas Por Pistolas, detail, 2008. Photo : Balise Adilon

The spades are used for planting trees everywhere the work goes on show. Agents of death have been turned into champions of life.

Last Fall, an educational arboretum comprising some twenty different varieties of trees were planted at the Hospital for Mothers and Babies in Bron, close to Lyon (there’s a video online if you’re dying to see French people planting a tree.)

3961911630_467328f510_b.jpgPedro REYES, Palas Por Pistolas, detail, 2008. Photo : Balise Adilon

Reyes’ El Atlas de Innovación Ciudadana (The Atlas of Citizens Innovation) maps Mexican artists, activists and organizations who look for solutions to the social, economic, cultural and environmental challenges of XXIst century Mexico. The Atlas features the work of 100 inventive groups or individuals who have committed to bring change into their life. The Atlas has been designed as a portable exhibition. It takes the shape of a box containing 100 posters, each of them detailing a different case study: its context, the way it works, what experts think of it, a bibliography, interviews with the Agents of Innovation behind the project, etc. The posters can be assembled like a puzzle and form the landscape of the city.


50 000 copies of the Atlas toolkit have been printed and distributed in Mexico and other countries.

4179791026_c626c5dbd0_b.jpg-aayogaprisonk0.jpgYoga in Prison

Previously: Reyes’ Bicitaxi, a light, mass-produced vehicle that provides transport services for short distances in the center of Mexico city.
Related: Teresa Margolles’ work for the Mexican pavilion at the Venice Biennale.