Pedro Reyes

Inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science &  Technology

Reverse engineering warfare

Pedro Reyes is the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology. Reyes studied architecture but considers himself a sculptor. At MIT, Reyes taught “The Reverse Engineering of Warfare: Challenging Techno-optimism and Reimagining the Defense Sector (an Opera for the End of Times).” The course explored the interplay of imperialism, armed interventions, the defense budget, the history of engineering and military technology, crisis management in environmental disasters, popular entertainment and the global imbalances created by the West’s fixation on technological advancement. The resulting performance included collaborative creative enactments of the actual facts and the (often unasked) ethical questions faced by society today.

In addition to his position as lecturer in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, Reyes met with MIT faculty and researchers to develop potential collaborative projects. During Spring 2017, Reyes will connect with the creative energy, innovative thinking and advanced technology found throughout the MIT community. The Distinguished Visiting Artist appointment is designed to provide opportunities to pursue sustained, in-depth research and development in order to shape new creative projects in collaboration with MIT faculty, students and researchers.


Presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST)

Artist Pedro Reyes’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 initiated the ongoing Palas por Pistolas where 1,527 guns were collected in Mexico through a voluntary donation campaign to produce the same number of shovels to plant 1,527 trees. This led to Disarm (2012), where 6,700 destroyed weapons were transformed into a series of musical instruments.

Other notable past works include Sanatorium (2011), a transient clinic that provides short unexpected treatments mixing art and psychology. Originally commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, Sanatorium has been in operation at Documenta 13, Kassel (2012); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); The Power Plant, Toronto (2014); the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Miami (2014-2015); and OCA, Sao Paulo (2015). In 2013, Reyes presented the first edition of pUN: The People’s United Nations at Queens Museum in New York City. pUN is an experimental conference in which regular citizens act as delegates for each of the countries in the UN and seek to apply techniques and resources from social psychology, theater, art, and conflict resolution to geopolitics. pUN’s second and third editions took place at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2015) and at the Museum of the 21st century in Kanazawa, Japan (2015). Reyes lives and works in Mexico City.


More at the artist’s website: Pedro Reyes.

Residency Visit March 20 – 24, 2017

Student Dinner and Discussion
March 21, 2017 / 5:00pm

Faculty Dinner and Discussion
March 23, 2017 / 6:00pm


Public Presentation

“Double Agents” ACT Lecture Series: Art as Conflict Resolution
April 24, 2017 / 6:00-8:00pm
ACT Cube, Wiesner Building (E15)
20 Ames Street, Lower Level
Cambridge, MA 02124


Based in Mexico City, Pedro Reyes is the inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at CAST. His practice is highly eclectic and socially minded: he produces sculptures, theatre, musical instruments, puppets, therapy sessions, graphic novels and many other things to promote social and economic justice.

The “Double Agents” lecture series, hosted by the MIT Program in Art, Culture & Technology, invites artist presenters whose work provokes and thrives in the tension between competing systems of power, production and exhibition. At play in these discussions is the role of ethics in political art amidst shifting forms of governance, suppression and repression.


Past Events

Teaching Visits

September 6 – 10, 2016
September 28 – 30, 2016
December 8 – 14, 2016


Art News: Pedro Reyes Named Inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist At MIT

Art Forum: Pedro Reyes Named MIT’S Inaugural Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist

The Art Newspaper: Pedro Reyes’s haunted house taps into the scary side of American politics

New York Times: ‘Doomocracy’ Puts the Politics of Fear on Display in Brooklyn

New York Times: At ‘Doomocracy,’ It’s Fright Night in Brooklyn

Freunde von Freunden: Building Beauty From Brutalism: Pedro Reyes and Carla Fernández

The Creators Project: From Guns To Drums: Pedro Reyes Turns Weapons Of Hate Into Musical Instruments

Creative Time Reports: Disarm: Transforming Guns into Art, from Mexico to the U.S.

Bomb Magazine: Pedro Reyes

Art In America: The Revolution Will Be Fun


MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology


Pedro Reyes. Photo: Ana Hop.
Pedro Reyes. Photo: Ana Hop.