LEARN: Urban Therapy (Or How to Tackle Noise Pollution with Art)

Posted on: June 28th, 2011

Pedro Reyes’ Guggenheim Project Offered Creative Counseling for New Yorkers

Pedro Reyes, a Mexican artist, tackled New York City’s noise pollution with art. His project Sanatorium was the inaugural project in a forthcoming series of interdisciplinary works commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum for a two-year project exploring “stillness.” Reyes, with help from approximately 70 attendants, provided “urban therapy” to visitors, or in this case patients, in a two-story storefront in Brooklyn. Reyes’ pop-up clinic delivered a refuge from the city where people could take part in enriching activities and therapies modeled after Gestalt psychology. As Art in America put it, “More than an escape, however, Sanatorium [brought] the urban jungle, with its seductive tangle of disappointments and desires, into intense focus.” The therapies included a form of reverse Voodoo Reyes calls “Goodoo” and another called “The Museum of Hypothetical Lifetimes,” where patients used items provided to create a museum exhibition of their life, working with therapists to help them curate their show.

Reyes has a number of outstanding projects beyond Sanatorium archived on his website. Included is the artist’s Baby Marx project, where Reyes and a team of Japanese puppeteers designed and executed an art project in the form of a television pilot about the philosophers and practitioners of capitalism and socialism. This project makes complex ideology accessible to all ages and gives a good background as to where these philosophers were coming from in their ideology. Also archived is Reyes’ project Palas por Pistolas, where Reyes formed a campaign with the city of Culiacán, Mexico in which citizens could donate their weapons in return for vouchers for small appliances and electronics. The 1,527 weapons collected were crushed and melted down to produce 1,527 shovels, which were in turn used to plant 1,527 trees. We Make Money Not Art said that, “Pedro Reyes does the most thoughtful, honest socially-engaged works.”

To read more about Sanatorium, check out the NY Times article and the artist’s blog, also, a copy of the patient form and an interview with Reyes can be found at Design Boom.

Also see L.A.’s Ceramic Break-Down.

by Alex Miller

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