The recent horrific incidents of gun violence in Aurora, Colorado and the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin have sparked bursts of (online) debate about the future of guns in the U.S. While some continue to hold on strongly to their 2nd amendment right, others would rather see an end to the era of easily accessible arms markets. In light of all this, we thought it would be appropriate to bring you 6 projects that imagine alternative futures for these controversial weapons. Each of these projects, located throughout the world, re-purposes guns to create non-violent objects and expressions of peace.
Transforming Arms into Tools, Mozambique
Since 1995, The Christian Council of Mozambique has managed a program that offers tools (such as bicycles, sewing machines and hoes) to those who bring in their weapons — relics of the country’s former 16 year civil war — for exchange. The weapons are then broken down and separated by material. The swap supplies a group of Mozambican artists with free materials which have been turned into sculptural forms like animals and thrones.
Furniture From Weapons, The Peace Art Project Cambodia (PAPC), Cambodia
After more than 30 years of civil war, the Cambodian government began systematically destroying 125,000 weapons that were spread across the country. Sasha Constable, a small arms specialist with the EU, acknowledging the potential of the material, created the Peace Art Project Cambodia in 2003, which turns art into sculptural furniture.
Victor Hugo Zayas’ LA Gun Buyback Program Peace Sculptures, U.S.A.
Mexican Artist Victor Hugo Zayas has used guns recovered by the City of Los Angeles’ Gun Buyback Initiative to create strong, abstract sculptures that he exhibits in galleries. He has dedicated his exhibitions to victims of crime and to those who have been affected by gun violence.
London’s Olympic Stadium, United Kingdom
London’s Olympic Stadium has attracted some attention for its green building strategies. One such strategy, which we reported on a while back, has been the incorporation of melted down metals from guns and knives that have been confiscated by the metropolitan police. Rather than harm, the weapons (literally) supported some of the best athletes of all time.
Al Farrow’s “Reliquaries”, U.S.A
Artist Al Farrow creates models of religious sites made entirely from ammunition and firearms. Treating the metal as one would LEGO pieces, the San Francisco-based sculptor creates miniature mosques, churches and synagogues to provoke visual contradictions that can’t be ignored.
Artist Pedro Reyes’ “Palas por Pistolas”, Mexico
Motivated by the city of Culiacan’s high rate of gun deaths, Pedro Reyes held a campaign to collect 1,527 guns from local residents in exchange for coupons that would help them buy appliances and electronic devises. The guns were then melted down to create shovel heads to plant trees and shrubs throughout Culiacan’s community. The initiative aims to both beautify a city affected by weapons and crime, and curb the trade of small arms weapons.