Big Ideas in Art and Culture: Pedro Reyes

I appreciate very much all of you coming and joining the planting we just did I will speak a little bit about Palace poor pistolas project and then move on into another two or three projects depending on how we’re doing on time this project basically started I think it like two years ago or no more perhaps more like three years ago out of an invitation by the Botanical Garden in Culiacan which is a city in West in the west of Mexico where there’s like a open-air collection of Contemporary Art and I was invited to do a project there and instead of doing a kind of sculpture in a rotunda or a kind of pavilion in this beautiful garden I was interested in doing something that had some resonance with the situation that was taking place and he still is a problem in the north north of Mexico there is nearly 2,000 weapons that are coming into our territory every day from the United States there’s around 7,000 sale points of weapons in Arizona New Mexico Texas etc where everyone can buy assault weapons high-power weapons and the markup of these weapons south of the border is like five fold tenfold ten times more and that has created a whole introduction of this kind of deadly agent into cities where this abundance of weapons have created a wave of crime and obviously this project is just a grain of sanding the kind of effort that is needed to be done however what we did I’m gonna first start I start to describe a little bit how the project took place I don’t know if by chance you know are you familiar with Albert bandura Albert bandura is a Canadian social scientists and he likely recently they did a research on the most like kind of influential psychologist of full-time they made this election based on the number of book quotations and references in bibliography etc so Alberta ranks 4th after 30 Sigmund Freud then is Skinner for a third is Piaget and for this Albert bandura why I’m bringing bandura up here being in Canada is because he was like somehow an influence in the development of this project because Albert bandura did something which is known as modeling behavior and a series of experiments where for instance he had like a bottle like one of these kind of punching dolls that you had to hit and kids were led to this kind of this room where the the Bobo doll is and they hugged evolvable and then a different group of kids are shown a film where someone is hitting the bubble and then when the kids are led into the room again they heat the robot all and they even come up with new ways to hurt the bubble so basically when dora has created a different theories of kind of how do we learn how how the social learning happens and I’m interested in in his thinking and writing because the phenomena of violence has to do a lot with how guns in media are something that to this day it continues to be something sexy and something that we haven’t developed a kind of cultural rejection against weapons videogames maybe the kind of area where this is least observed interested in in his ideas I also wanted to work that kind of reverse engineer this process creating a campaign inviting people to give up their rare weapons now so what we did was a series of TV spots almost using the language of a soap opera you’ll see I didn’t direct them I only gave it like some ideas and local TV vivid but basically the idea is

to a situation that we understand that there were no questions as to whoever was surrendering a we’re poor no we wanted to also have a very predominant role like kind of role of woman at the core of the families for instance in this TV spot you see a woman who says well you know like I don’t want weapons around in my house I’m gonna take them to the different situations none of them context this is like their rifle that we have or something not never assuming that they could be associated with a crime of any case so it was very successful we collected on like 1527 guns and rifles and different although plastic and wood parts were removed and and we did what we did then was to take the parts to a foundry with the medal that that was collected from them the next phase was to use that medal and make the shovels I am interested in this process because it worked out through two private companies who actually took art collector the first one was a ghosting couple who is the patron behind the Botanical Garden and he has a chain of stores that sell electric appliances so his contribution was not only helping the logistics by appointing someone to help with all the bureaucratic process of working with the army etc but also trading coupons for vouchers where people should get like a coupon in exchange for the work from they were donating the other corporate support was hooper which is a company that makes hardware and they supported the process of turning that metal into the shovels like the one we use today at this point what I am hoping is that these campaign doesn’t stops here the goal is to replicate the campaign in other cities to turn this into a nationwide campaign this is not like a new idea obviously it’s in the context of many efforts many people have made in cities where they try to collect weapons make them into something different we really need to rethink the entire military sector in all our countries there are certain interesting cases for instance Costa Rica is a country which in the context of Central America has been the most prosperous country one of the factors for its success is that at some point they decided to abolish their military their army almost like their military spending and they have like a kind of police force but they took the money they were investing in military and used it in applications that in history we have had like different reasons for go to war there have been time like in the like where these ideas have been trade and and also combined with a religion like the Crusades or in 19th century Wars

were mainly colonial in the 20th century there was a strong element of ideology like kind of Cold War struggle between socialism or communism and capitalism but the reason why wars are fought today at least in the case of Mexico is trade is a capitalist war these guys buy other fake moral elements but basically it’s all always our economic what I’m trying to explain is if we look at some of the words that have been fought in the last ten years for instance like Iraq and Afghanistan they are not good businesses the colonial law obviously brought a lot of wealth into a Europe the British Empire was the biggest drug dealer in the world with the opium wars know they they control it there was a whole department that was managing drug trade in China and that was bringing a lot of wealth into Europe but if you look at the kind of words that I Iraq in Afghanistan today I think that the money that was spent in these drugs if you look at it of Rebecca paid capitalist perspective doesn’t brings real return on investment and what I’m trying to reflect on is if war is proving not to be such a good business anymore work will always be business but they want for the ones who produce weapons but but in the end these are one of the reasons why there is like these kind of economical problems in the United States at least and some other countries too that means that we as a planet we are ready always I mean like if the military sector want ceased to exist it means that we acknowledge that even if it’s not a business anymore if it’s not good for bringing profits into a country that countries will still continue to have a military sector basically I think that the big shift that needs to be done in the military sector is that instead of using the the Army’s as a way to manage conflict they should be sectors to manage environmental crisis now there will be more and more tornados and hurricanes and storms and and environmental disasters with more frequency so the whole military sector should change vocation and manage environmental crisis that would have some positive opportunities one would be that countries could compete for contracts global contracts so they could put their military sector to compete for contracts to do certain operations of rescue and be even on this kind of effort and obviously it would have like a better carry charisma even for imperialistic purposes such as opening market if you were doing these interventions not and I’m kind of at military bases with that kind of ideological that no one buys anymore I mean like after everybody has become aware that the reasons to go to for war into in Iraq we’re a lie were basing a lie that there were no such weapons of mass destruction etc people have learned that most of the kind of military interventions are not legitimate anymore so I think that the palate for pathology is like just like a kind of a grain of sign in a kind of what should be or what I’m interested is in what could be other ways how well other people thinking in how do we rethink the millet the military sector in society I believe that first is not that military sector should be necessarily reduced it’s more like okay it’s great that there’s like such a hierarchical and disciplinary sector that can be channeled and sent into missions with such structure the problem is that instead of using weapons for killing they could be using tools for fixing the environment the other thing is that I do believe that we need to develop a cultural rejection again the weapon production industry the weapon production industry both of small weapons and large weapons is something which is never questioned you can look at in the stock market and all these companies are doing really well they’re public you can invest on them and the companies that produce guns assault weapons and all these machines for death are aware that probably half of their production is gonna go into the black market they have very shady interest in causing conflicts around the world to boost their sales and this is never questioned and I think that that there is nothing most harmful in whatever can be like a human activity than producing weapons that’s my belief if someone thinks different like I would like to hear the counterpoint because I’m interested in learning this counterpoint

some people say gonna be liability makes community safer it may be in some countries but I doubt I doubt that’s true at least in Mexico I mean know for sure that’s not true the more weapons that you have the least secure there are countries because it’s like a very fragile if you don’t have like extremely sound judicial system like the introduction of weapons can very easily make a whole city or community crazy I think I have went a long way in this topic so I’m gonna stop there I apologize for letting my mind talk out loud and I’m gonna move into a different project I’m gonna show you two two plays that took place this year this this project is called sanatorium it is based in a forgotten world that was called society it was a term used briefly in the 30s and 40s as the art and science of healing society it was like a kind of a applied effort of social psychology often psycho social psychology remains in the field of diagnosis but not so much into a kind of a therapy so what was sanatorium sanatorium was an exhibition organized by the Guggenheim Museum in New York City but it was not in the Frank Lloyd Wright building it’s a it’s part of a project called steel spotting where five artists were invited to do five projects in the five boroughs of New York I was opening the series with Brooklyn and what we did was to take former hardware shop very large space two floors and the only way to experience the show was to check in as a patient you you had to spend at least two hours and you would arrive pay your ticket it was $16 same as the kind of museum ticket and then you were greeted by a nurse you had to sign a paper release form and this release was you know like I stated that none of their stuff is real doctors this is not real therapy this is an art project despite of that everything looked like if you were in a hospital now the walls the environment and the nurse would ask you well what are you do you have any ailments or problems and depending on what you you were referred to for of 16 different therapies you had like these different sessions most of them were two or three individual therapies and then at least one large therapy and you had these 16 short treatments that lasted about between 20 and 30 minutes I’m gonna explain some of them this is the Museum of hypothetical lifetimes and what is it what what it is is like a like a architecture model as you see where you have a set of spaces that represent different moments of your life number one which is like this live at the beginning is the cradle there were shelves with tiny objects like little toys or or tokens like and you were asked to place in this model therapist will tell you choose an object that represents your mother or to anomalous that represents your earliest like your oldest memory and it was basically similar to when a curator uses a model to plan an exhibition here you have this model as a way to see your whole life you had this map where you in 20 minutes you saw your entire life both the past and the future in a single space and you had to then do no locket you were choosing these objects placing them for instance and number nine is that the years you spend in education you have like these different square rooms that represent like classrooms where the responsibility and the knowledge is growing while the play space is shrinking there’s the kind of ripple like a regular space which is the time that you spend with bad companies and discovering yourself and rock and roll and all that then 11 is like this different this all these square kapa calls are your work life where you have like these different works and some that are closed maybe for instance of jobs you never took some that are like a spiral Mary’s one that it took you some

time to find here which is the development of your personal life in the rest of your life those on closed circles may be relationships somehow ended it is obviously quite subjective how you plan this but basically is a space where you arrange images from your life both present and past and then once you have this exhibition you explain the therapist and you guide this person through your life so it’s an exercise to see your whole life in a few minutes there’s this other one called the back three negates violence this cathartic exercise which combines some techniques from primal scream and a lot of other schools where you’re asked to take a balloon and in this balloon you have to draw the face of the person who has hurt you most him in your life and then you place a balloon on top of this dummy and you are encouraged to hit the dummy and to tell the dummy why this person why he hurt you so much and why you hate them and why you wish them whatever you you want you get even with them and you end this process by breaking the balloon meaning that if you kill one person in a symbolic act you don’t need to go in real life and kill that person the kill is quite extreme but break their balls or whatever once you do this ritual and you keep the dummy you’re giving a placebo a pill which is a candy and then you’re told that you’re vaccinated against violence so you add that kind of release these and other therapies on the sanatorium are basically the whole project is in itself a delivery system of placebos there’s a lot of talk today about the power of placebos if you’re in a hospital and someone comes to see you without a lab coat with our stethoscope is not the same as if they’re wearing their costume there’s been all these studies that show you that if your doctor is overweight and tells you to lose weight you just don’t pay any attention or if they tell you not to smoke and they smoke it’s the same it doesn’t it there’s no follow up of that order but more interestingly than the power of placeas are term called which is nocebo the nocebo is something that is the opposite of the placebo for instance someone is suffering pain and in some experiments they said we’re gonna inject you a medicine that is that we need to we needed to have but it’s gonna make your pain worst and what they were injected in fact was morphine which was easing their I mean like chemically lit should either pain but they were injected and they were said that their pain would be worse so they started to feel more pain even if they were injected morphine so all these experiments about placebos are you know like at the idea of the sanitarium is that in itself is a delivery system of placebo so it is important at the moment that you sign up as a patient you are told there you’re gonna live a lie and being a lie and being warned doesn’t stop you from buying it another therapy is called a city leaks this is a secular version of the ritual of confession what you are told is okay you’re you right in this in a piece of paper something that you’re a secret that you’re really embarrassed something that you would never tell you’re really ashamed of and and then what you do is that you put this message in a bottle and in a bucket and then in exchange you can take someone else’s Waddell and Reed someone else a secret there’s like some incentive few things are more pleasurable than gossip no but this is like innocuous gossip because you’re asked people like to you know get the therapist ask you to refrain from using personal names or anything that may harm you or someone else so you both have that kind the same liberation that you have enact

in the ritual of confession but also enjoyment that you have in gossip and both are somehow harmless this other therapy is called Google and is the positive version of the voodoo doll holding the Google you had like this table with a bunch of cloth generic dolls there were a number of small objects that have different meanings you were not told what the meanings were but obviously you assign them some meaning and then you had to choose five objects and you had to choose word in the body to place it basically when you were asked to think on a person it could be you it could with someone else so when you know and it’s someone new it so I didn’t have to be someone you wish to do good I’m gonna show you a little video of a testimonial that it will show you a little bit one of these cases while there do you wait till after they’re done and she decided to wait so after she was done so just putting together the doll and then she so she finishes and she goes okay this dolls for my mother and I’m kind of way oh okay sorry mom and then she said it’s for my jobs but it’s for my birth mother who I’ve never met I don’t know I don’t know where she is I don’t know she’s still alive and so that tune is everything in my mind but I miss listening to what she’s saying and so she goes out and starts describing the different charms so the first time she did she describes as the Madonna who died and that she puts on the womb and the symbol of motherhood and giving birth the second term that she points out is the key that she puts her on her hand because the daughter who’s making the doll is starting the process of trying to find her birth mother and actually her birth mother has to also be willing to be found so she feels that her mother has the key to reuniting the mother and daughter then she points to the she put the Dove because at the heart because she hoped that her mother is at peace with the decision that she made of giving up her daughter for adoption and then the wheat stopped she put on the arm of the symbol of home even though she doesn’t feel like she has home that that is a symbol home that she carries it with her she put the skeleton and the necklace is like a charm because she said she’s read that parents who give up child’s for adopt and feel like the child dies or that they lose through the death of their parents hood of being a parent and then the last thing she pointed out was the mirror because she said the only reflection she had of her mother is her own face and that she may actually resemble her mother and what might be resemblance of her mother’s face and so as she’s describing this I actually start crying because I was transformed I I feel like I lost my mother and that my mother gave me up because she was very physically emotionally abusive to me and so I’m feeling very connected to this doll because it’s something that I wouldn’t do I would not have made my mother a doll but I’m realizing now that this doll is kind of partly mine so as we finish the conversation the client gets up and leaves the doll at the table and I said oh no this is your daughter everyone’s taking their their dolls and she goes I don’t think I want the doll and so I said well I think I said you know what why don’t you just leave it here and if you change your mind you can come back and get it so she goes throughout those the other therapies and I’m kind of watching at the corner of my eye and I also write down the what the doll symbol is in case the doll gets left and no one knows that what the doll is I was gonna pin it and attach it to the dog that got left but as the time goes by I’m realizing that I don’t want her to come back for the dog because I’m realizing that is kind of the doll that I should be making from my mother and I feel like this woman made the doll for me and for my mom and for her for her mom because in some way we both lost our mother but she was actually brave enough to to to make this doll and so in leaving it she left it for me because

I needed I will start crying again so anyway she didn’t come back from the doll now I have it and it’s something that it’s good for me to have I think because it’s the first time since since since I was either the child that I’ve ever thought really truly of giving something positive to that’s so good fantastic story there were all these kind of things like plethora of insights all the time which are very exotic I don’t even know the term which is like a kind of countertransference or whatever it would be like have that the psychological term now the Guru has been taken to India and now this orphanage in India where they’re doing the good halls and they came up with new technique where they paint the Google because they didn’t have a chance so they use that colors assigned like two different kind of a feelings and they cover it with plastic to keep the magic in so I got these one of the therapies that was taking part of the project in New York went to India and started doing it there I’m gonna show you some few others ontological algebra you come and you tell your problem to someone who’s has like mathematical skills and they turn it into like an equation and you have like a graph it’s like this kind of therapy where you work in a kind of whiteboard and you are your problems charted or explained as a formula you can do an inversion to the formula to see your from a different way the compatibility test for couples the compatibility test for couples you have a series of different fruits and vegetables of different kinds and two persons are asked to choose the fruit that they must they identify most with and then you make a kind of blend they put them in a blender and you can make a kind of juice or smoothie and then you taste by the flavor how compatible you are as a couple the philosophical casino the philosophical casino it’s an Oracle you come with a question you are actually given the chance to make three questions and there’s these dreidels or or dices that have different schools of thought some are Greek philosophers others are German philosophers Renaissance philosophers etc we were putting all the questions in in the wall the therapist takes your question and then you are asked to choose which school of thought you want your answer from and you spin these huge dreidels they fall and you get a quote from one of these thinkers and you try to get some meaning out of it this works very well where you have small groups of people let’s say that for p4 for clients are joining the the Oracle so let’s say that they do take turns to ask questions and you have other guests who you know like I are observing but if you don’t see at first what the phrase may mean they suggest something or they share their own experience and these kind of small group therapy it’s very useful to make decisions also very enjoyable the transfiguration express the transmigration express it was a group therapy where you had like this kind of balloons is based on past life regressions therapy some breathing exercises that mix Kundalini Yoga do you have like a kind of hyperventilation do you have a guided meditation that leads you to a place in the past and then you visit yourself in the past and then you come up and everybody shares the vision of where they went with their imagination I’m just showing you some of

the 16 different therapies maybe I have time to show one or two more projects the urban genome project the human genome project is a research archive based on interviews thinking on the metaphor of the human genome project or any genome project where you have a map of how life is built when we look at cities we look at hardware not like like physical buildings and roads today but there was a set of processes in neural for in order for that to exist that had to do with public administration with financing with planning with public and private development so when you’re making a genetic map you have the prospecting which is taking the samples and then the sequencing which is mapping and then recombination which is you know like a taking one chromosome or one gene er of this jellyfish and mixing it with this tomato so it won’t rot so it’s a little bit like how to make transgenic cities so there was in Mexico this summit of 2000 majors from all over the world that were coming and the summit had took place in different cities so I built this moving platform that was moving to different brain and a group of 38 interviewers collected 500 interviews from delegates of cities around the world the idea was to make the interview with a specific format where you had like a kind of spreadsheet and you have 50 topics which you know like ranges from waste management to employment or air quality of air or water access a connectivity commuting mobility etc the idea was to have a good system of tags because if you ask a kind of a mayor or someone or a delegate from the city how to make a better city you’re gonna get a very generic answer oh well there should be more environmental more efficient and more participatory or something that kind of questions are not really helpful what are what is really helpful is to go into the chromosome and then into the gene of how one particular decision has what like was made into a real thing so the questions were choose only out of these 50 topics choose only five that you are most proud of that you are that where your biggest achievement and in this way they interview which lasted about ten minutes in five segments of two minutes each where these delegates answering like telling about these five things so when we were doing the interviews we have this kind of spreadsheet and the America we were going to minutes or each point we are building database where we’re gonna put online these tags and these tags you click on bicycles and then you have 16 delegates from different cities saying how this particular tactic was implemented in the city so when you’re going to vary like close it one topic what is interesting is to see what are the little differences of the different strategies and that the hope is that it’s going to become a useful resource and that is that the mobile unit may crush other summits and collect more information so not only public sector the idea is also to do it with private sector social sector and creative sector now which is you know cuz someone would be like the private sector obviously developers etc social sector were working directly from citizen groups and the creative sector which includes architects filmmakers urbanist it’s artists etc I’m going to show you another project which is baby Mark this is a project that is now in display at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis it’s a puppet show it’s a product I started doing in Japan in 2008 before the crisis and the two main protagonists are Karl Marx and Adam Smith and I you know again I was

interested in their go to the original sources and have these two figures come to a political debate and discourse so I needed some kind of excuse or plotline so the story takes place well started in in library they bring in a microwave but it’s a different micro it’s called smart awake and the smarter wave is basically a new microwave that you just put the ingredients in and it cooks for you and there are some kids that spend their evenings in there in the library and then they’re lazy and they say well maybe if we put our homework inside the smarter wave it’s gonna solve it and they do and actually it comes out solved so I say let’s find a way to make money and they go into the books and they are by mistake instead of taking a business book they take the capital they book from Marx and thinking that capital means money and it’s gonna and like a turn into gold or something but what they get instead is Karl Marx and Mark starts to preach them about class warfare and revolution and they’re not interested they still want the money so Mark said well if you want money why don’t you bring Adam Smith so they bring Adams meal and then Martin Smith starts a fight and they they go on fighting for a different like for in every episode they have always an argument I could show you this is studies for the for the puppets I like it working in Japan in the development of the characters because crafts especially traditional toys have interesting connection to modern art because for instance like working in the lathe like the Google degree wheel like like when you like this kind of traditional toys is very close to some shapes that you often find for instance in the costume design of the Bauhaus where you have like this kind of very abstract shapes so what I was doing is like okay I’m gonna try to take these historical figures and make the most simple abstract design I could do so I started doing these silhouette abstractions of these historical figures this is freakin girls for instance this is the librarian Lenin Nasser tongue Adam Smith so I’m gonna show you one tip that that was shot recently in Minneapolis and probably will end there yeah Decius okay against the master the art stuff is a little difficult for you old chap I do understand but I do think you’ll like this one quite a lot it was produced in a factory it is a product and you know how much surplus value is in this thing so much so they make they make it in the factory Oh what would he buys this because oh look at how much work and talk like this it’s like this is capitalism filled capitalism nobody if it sinks about the fact that there was factory workers he’s gone some guy you know pictures like coca-cola which I hate and then he turns it into a painting and it’s millions and billions of dollars on it I think I got the point anyway he was meeting his own money and how is he doing it strictly on the basis of originality and creativity it is precisely your sort of is completely exploiting the idea of creativity well doesn’t it make money on it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t express the absolute right of the workers authenticity deep within the structure of the very silk-screening in factory labor processes by which it was created you know what let’s just agree on one thing we’re both after societal good are we not yeah of course and we both want the human condition to advance do not not sure well then if you agree on these two principles then obviously this artwork is really genius yeah but it doesn’t have to be sorry million dollars to be

genius your Facebook what’s that listen I’m in the doing Facebook you know the faces look we’re in the book III don’t know Bob’s it’s not the kind of literature I tend to read you don’t lock all of this pretending to be the proletariat is really getting tiresome you know it’s tiresome – painting yes indeed it’s good for me but you scooch away you go and scooch you scoot right out that door scooch if I liked you yeah let’s leave it there you