Pedro Reyes Announced as First Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT

Reyes will teach a course challenging popular ideas about the tech industry.

Pedro Reyes. Photo Ana Hop, courtesy MIT.
Pedro Reyes. Photo Ana Hop, courtesy MIT.

Mexican artist Pedro Reyes has been named as the first Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT, where he will teach a course with the rather long title of “The Reverse Engineering of Warfare: Challenging Techno-optimism and Reimagining the Defense Sector (an Opera for the End of Times).”

“Reyes’s multidisciplinary approach to art-making and activism is an ideal fit for the creative exploration and discovery taking place across MIT every day,” said Evan Ziporyn, faculty director of the MIT Center for Art, Science and Technology in a statement. “And I have no doubt that this long-term research and development residency will have a lasting impact on both the arts community at MIT and hopefully the artist’s practice as well.”

The Dasha Zhukova Distinguished Visiting Artist at MIT program was made possible by a $1 million gift that the Russian collector and founder of Moscow’s Garage Museum donated to the research university in October 2015.

The donation funds a year-long residency at MIT during which artists can to pursue projects and research while also teaching a course.

Dasha Zhukova attends the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Dasha Zhukova. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Reyes’ course will investigate themes of imperialism, defense budgets, military intervention and technology, engineering history, popular entertainment, and crisis management in relation to natural disasters. There will also be a focus on Western obsession with technological advancement, according to the statement from MIT.

Reyes’ class, in collaboration with professor Carla Fernández, will incorporate music, sculpture, performance, music, and conflict resolution therapy.

“My personal experience and perspective from Latin America, where human interaction matters more than technology, have made me particularly interested in challenging techno-optimism at MIT,” Reyes said in a statement. “Institutions around the world always pay attention to what happens at MIT, and I have witnessed many ideas that have emerged there that are being implemented in Latin America,” he added.

Reyes, who selected from group of 50 nominees, is based in Mexico City, where he is active in the fight against gun trafficking through the country. In 2008, he founded the initiative Palas por Pistolas (“spades for guns” in Spanish), whereby guns are melted down and transformed into gardening equipment.


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