Medellín is one of the most modern cities of Colombia and Latin America, a sense of modernity that translates to its up-and-coming art scene, which — until a few years ago — lacked the space for more experimental or alternative offerings.
Within this scene there are both famous names and young up-and-coming artists in need of places to show off their work. Luckily there are people that care enough to supply places to work and participate in the construction of a more artistic city.
On such example is the Casa Tres Patios, founded by Tony Evanko, which since 2006 offers artists and local communities a space to express themselves. Their mission is “a non-profit foundation dedicated to research, alternative pedagogical practices, artistic production, free creation and collaborative knowledge”.
In an interview for the website Medellín Cultura, Tony explained the project in detail:
este espacio está abierto a artistas, arquitectos, curadores y profesionales afines al arte que vayan a desarrollar un proyecto o una investigación en la ciudad, pero es condición que esos proyectos sean aportes nuevos para la práctica artística contemporánea y que tengan un componente comunitario porque las residencias existen para la comunidad
This space is open to artists, architects, curators and related professionals of art who are developing a project or research in town, but it is important that these projects are new contributions to contemporary art practice and have a community component because the homes exist for the community.
Global Voices talked to Tony to find out more about the history, activities and projects of Casa Tres Patios.
One of the most interesting aspects of Casa Tres Patios, as mentioned by Tony in the video above, is their association with Un/Loquer, a hackerspace that operates from inside the house, representing collaboration between modern art and tech experts.
But what kind of art is developed in the house? An interview with Tony for the Red de Bibliotecas Medellín offered an explanation:
Este hombre, bien como arquitecto, bien como artista, recuerda dos exposiciones que se han instalado en su Casa Tres Patios. Una de ellas, Desaparecidos, de Isabel Restrepo; una obra que juega con las luces y las sombras, una muestra con tecnología básica, pero con calidad. La segunda, de Juan Fernando Vélez, un pintor que no usó las paredes de la casa para colgar sus cuadros, los muros se convirtieron en parte de su obra. “Eso es algo que siempre hemos querido, nos interesa que el artista use el espacio”.
This man, just as much architect as he is artist, remembers two expositions that were on display at his Casa Tres Patios. One of them, Desaparecidos, by Isabel Restrepo is piece that plays with light and shadows, a showcase of basic technology but with quality. The second one is by Juan Fernando Vélez, a painter that didn't use the walls of his home to hang his paintings, instead those walls became a part of his work. “That is something that has always interested us, that the artist use the space.”
While flipping through his publications, one of the house's projects that caught our attention was “De lo local a lo global” (From Local to Global) by María José Planells and Juan José Rivillas. The project intends to educate people about the environment, showing young people how to cook with sunlight and recycle waste from raw materials, as well as raise awareness about issues such as river pollution and deforestation.
Among the projects that Casa Tres Patios develops to promote artistic work is Cubo X, which gives local artists a space to experiment. At the same time it is a creative laboratory for young people participating in the Foco Critico programme, which teaches forms of expression that connect art, technology, and communication, from the nonprofit cultural organization Platohedro. There are also workshops, studios, teaching spaces and areas dedicated to discussion groups, where people talk, reflect and generate animated and dynamic ideas.
Another activity held in conjunction with the Sistema de Bibliotecas Públicas de Medellín (SBPM), is called #Bibliolabs. It is a process of training through the experience of collaborative and collective creation that promotes learning about digital culture.
One interesting side of Casa Tres Patiosis is the organization's self-financing. Besides the support they receive from some institutions, they host an annual activity, as Tony explained in the Red de Bibliotecas Medellín interview:
Sostener económicamente la Casa es posible gracias a una subasta al final del año, en la que los artistas donan sus obras. “Algo que me ha parecido muy bonito es que los mismos artistas compran las obras de sus compañeros, se vuelve en algo muy íntimo y es la credibilidad que tiene el proyecto. Los artistas necesitan este espacio, además no tenemos tiempo para vender”.
The Casa is able to support itself financially thanks to an auction at the end of the year to which the artists donate their works. “Something I found very nice is the fact that the artists buy the works of colleagues, making the auction very intimate and the project more credible. Artists need this space as they do not have time to sell [their work].”