In Pharmasphere, Pedro Reyes stages a theatrical history of the production, distribution and consumption of prescription and illegal drugs in the Americas from prohibition times to the present day. Performers in the roles of farmers, gangsters, drug lords, politicians, soldiers, doctors and pharmacists demonstrate how the chemicals that we consume connect and impact us all. Using techniques developed by Brazilian theatre practitioner Agosto Boal in his consciousness-raising Theatre of the Oppressed, Reyes engages the audience with issues that are too often avoided, or filtered to us through the perspectives of the media, politicians and corporations. Empowered as “spect-actors” audience members help shape the narrative as it is performed, exploring alternative outcomes and new modes of confronting and working through our multifaceted war against drugs.

Reyes was born in 1972 in Mexico City, where he lives and works today. Operating between architecture, design, language and video, his works address the interplay between physical and social space. Past projects include Palas por Pistolas (2008), for which Reyes started a campaign to get guns off the streets of Culiacán, Mexico. Working with local authorities, Reyes had 1,527 guns melted down to produce 1,527 shovels, intended to plant trees in cities across the world. Reyes’ Sanatorium (2011-present) is a utopian “temporary clinic” designed to offer topical treatments for urban illnesses like stress, loneliness or hyper-stimulation. The project was presented for the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and in dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel.

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Funded by the generous support of members of the Contemporary Visiting Committee.

Performative objects in paper mache by Dey Hernández and David Lamoso of Papel Machete. Pharmasphere is the first iteration of a workshop and performance that will form part of The People’s UN (pUN), an exhibition and event by Pedro Reyes taking place at the Queens Museum of Art, New York in Fall 2013.

This event took place July 19, 2013.

A special thanks to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts’ Pre-College Summer Studio.