It was almost a year ago when my cousin, who works at the National Commission of Human Rights in Mexico, told me the story of a Black Hawk helicopter that was shot from the ground by the Michoacán-based drug cartel La Familia. One of the pilots got hit. The helicopter, she explained, was given to Mexico's federal police by the United States government as part of the Merida Initiative, which is a transnational agreement signed in 2008 between the United States, Mexico and Central American countries to combat drug trafficking by the supply of American war equipment and military training.
"What is striking and contradictory about this story," my cousin said, "is that upon analysing the helicopter's perforations, it showed that the weapon used was a Barrett .50 calibre firearm, which is an extremely difficult machine to operate." She then explained how a series of Barrett .50 firearms entered Mexico illegally through another US initiative, Operation Fast and Furious , which ran from late 2009 to early 2011. This controversial government strategy "purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal 'straw buyers', hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders." 
"It's gun politics," my cousin said. We discussed how this particular subject doesn't really figure in the political discourse of Mexico's current drug war. There's such an obvious link between weapons and violence, and yet, it's all about drugs. 
"It was actually meant to be a bell," said Pedro when discussing Imagine in a recent phone interview. (He was in Gwangju, preparing Imagine 's second performance, which was to occur at the opening of the Biennale with a group of local musicians who would be playing the instruments.) "You know how bells are sometimes used as an alarm instrument?" he continued. "Like a rape whistle?" I asked. "Exactly," he said.
In Mexico, Pedro's Imagine makes the air heavy, as everybody there is aware of the +60,000 drug-related deaths that have occurred in the 6-year tenure of outgoing president Felipe Calderón, who notoriously declared "war on drugs.
"I wanted to liberate these objects from their demons rather than perpetuating their association to death. When the instruments are played, it is as if some sort of exorcism is performed on them, and the negativity they inherently posses turns into something positive."
Our conversation left me wondering why the subject of gun control only seems to enter the public discourse when punctual events occur. We are reminded of this subject every so often by insane mass murders in the most unthinkable places: a Batman premiere in Aurora, Colorado; a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; a summer camp on Utøya Island, Oslo. In Mexico, this happens all year round, but it's only about drugs. So why wait for another horrific murder to engage with this subject and put it in the forefront of the international agenda? Pedro Reyes' gun-tune performance aims to do exactly that. José Esparza Chong Cuy (@JoseEsparza )
1. Richard A. Serrano, "Emails show top Justice Department officials knew of ATF gun program," Los Angeles Times , October 3, 2011
2. Our conversation was based on an article by Víctor Hugo Michel titled "El francotirador del narco II" for Milenio