Instruments to change reality

On February seventh, 2003, a car loaded with 440 pound of explosives parked on the third floor garage of El Club Nogal in Bogotá, Colombia. The country has been plagued by guerilla warfare for over 50 years, but this terrorist attack on an elite club was one of the worst to strike the nation for a decade.
César López, a popular rock guitarist, rushed over to the club to help. Part of the Battalion of Immediate Artistic Action, an emergency first-response unit of musicians and activists, López and others assisted in the aftermath of the explosion and played music for the survivors. It was there that López noticed a soldier holding a gun like a guitar, and an idea formed—an idea to make art part of the solution to the violence.
The first was built soon after, using a Winchester rifle and parts from a Stratocaster electric guitar. The name comes from escopa, for “shotgun,” and guitarra, for “guitar.” With the help of Colombian guitar-maker Alberto Paredes, López initially commissioned five escopetarras, one of which was gifted to the United Nations. In the following years, more decommissioned rifles were transformed and given to celebrities such as Shakira and Carlos Santana.
One of the most prominent guitarists in Latin America, López has always endeavored to integrate his music with peace activism. Since the bombing at El Nogal, López has also been working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on their “No Violence” campaign.
But the escopetarra is probably López’s most personal contribution to using art to heal the wounds inflicted on Colombia from guerilla warfare. With a heavy history that is lightened by music, the instrument is a powerful symbol of the path from destruction to violence.
“If the weapon, which was designed to kill, if its use can be changed, then why can’t humans change too?” López said in an interview with Cultures of Resistance.
Top photo via Wikicommons.

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Instruments to change reality

On February seventh, 2003, a car loaded with 440 pound of explosives parked on the third floor garage of El Club Nogal in Bogotá, Colombia. The country has been plagued by guerilla warfare for over 50 years, but this terrorist attack on an elite club was one of the worst to strike the nation for a decade.
César López, a popular rock guitarist, rushed over to the club to help. Part of the Battalion of Immediate Artistic Action, an emergency first-response unit of musicians and activists, López and others assisted in the aftermath of the explosion and played music for the survivors. It was there that López noticed a soldier holding a gun like a guitar, and an idea formed—an idea to make art part of the solution to the violence.
The first was built soon after, using a Winchester rifle and parts from a Stratocaster electric guitar. The name comes from escopa, for “shotgun,” and guitarra, for “guitar.” With the help of Colombian guitar-maker Alberto Paredes, López initially commissioned five escopetarras, one of which was gifted to the United Nations. In the following years, more decommissioned rifles were transformed and given to celebrities such as Shakira and Carlos Santana.
One of the most prominent guitarists in Latin America, López has always endeavored to integrate his music with peace activism. Since the bombing at El Nogal, López has also been working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on their “No Violence” campaign.
But the escopetarra is probably López’s most personal contribution to using art to heal the wounds inflicted on Colombia from guerilla warfare. With a heavy history that is lightened by music, the instrument is a powerful symbol of the path from destruction to violence.
“If the weapon, which was designed to kill, if its use can be changed, then why can’t humans change too?” López said in an interview with Cultures of Resistance.
Top photo via Wikicommons.

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