A Colombian artist-turned-musician donated his modified AK-47 “gun-guitar” Monday to the Gandhi Smriti Museum in New Delhi, India to symbolize the healing power of music.
Cesar Lopez gave the six-string electric guitar up so that it could become a symbol of peace in the museum, as part of the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s international peace program.
It is one of 17 gun-guitars that were commissioned by the U.N. in order to spread awareness about peace in nations plagued by crime and violence. Lopez’s guitar was crafted by a Lutheran priest-turned-innovator from an old AK-47 gun that the U.N. donated to the Colombian musician for the project.
“The work is very complex. The bullet-chamber of the gun, the trigger, and the safety latch had to be sealed and a wooden string board with the fret had to be fitted to the gun to pull the strings,” Lopez explained.
The gun-guitar makes the same sound as a normal guitar, but Lopez reports he has a hard time traveling through airports and convincing authorities that “it is a guitar, not a gun.”
He said that the gun-turned-guitar idea came to him after he performed in Colombia and “a Colombian soldier smashed my guitar at a site of a bomb blast in a high-end club…I felt here are two young men with almost identical weapons- an AK-47 and a guitar – both of which are slung across shoulders and held in the same way.”
Lopez, who is also Colombia’s U.N. non-violence messenger, is in the country to perform at the Delhi International Arts Festival on Tuesday and sing songs of peace.
“I will ask the museum to return the guitar for a day Tuesday when I perform at the festival,” Lopez said.
With his music, Lopez aims to reach out to survivors of violence and crime, and collaborate on therapeutic music projects. “I go wherever there is violence and disaster in Colombia to sing my songs of peace,” the musician concluded.