Casa Tres Patios located in Medellín, Colombia, has a young and creative team. Spending a month with the people there, I really appreciated the balance between work and friendship, responsibility and informality. This allowed time for fun alongside informal meetings where a wide range of ideas and plans could be discussed. Their office is more like a friendly house, where passionate people come to work and spend time together. In Kyrgyzstan, we have a more rigid separation making combining work and friendship difficult.
I found many of the problems artists face in Colombia are similar to those in Kyrgyzstan. For example, in Colombia artists do not have access to free or government subsidized studio spaces. Instead both contexts rely quite heavily on private donations. Street art is prohibited in both countries, yet many artists still engage with it.
Both countries also have some troubles connecting government with the broader community so as to solve various social issues. I noticed, however, that these problems were starting to be addressed in Colombia, particularly since the death of the narco-trafficker, Pablo Escobar. The government works closely with art groups in Colombia as well as NGOs. Throughout this recent period of re-alignment, it seems the arts have also emerged full of diversity. As such, Medellin is teeming with many types of artistic practices; for example, we visited an event of the Desencuentro Posporno collective where one of the works was concerned with the protection of the LGBT community. People in Kyrgyzstan wouldn’t even attend such an event, while it would also likely be intercepted and prevented in the first place. The majority of art produced in Kyrgyzstan is still very traditional.
I found that there are many aspects to Casa Tres Patios that we as Art Group 705 can learn from. Such as how to formalize as an institution, and how obtaining a space that reduces the issues of rent can allow for work to be made more independently. Casa Tres Patios also collaborates with the government on providing educational programs and teaching critical thinking. The exhibition that was installed during my visit was titled Ilustraciones Femmeninas [Women's Illustrations], which came about through a reflection on International Women's Day and the present day struggles of women and their role in society. These more institutional approaches were of particular interest to me as they showed a different way of working.
As Art Group 705 often brings people together through food we collaborated with Casa Tres Patios to stage a dinner, deepening our ties to the local context through sharing a diversity of flavors. Both organizations prepared a meal from different countries: I prepared Tajik pilaf, salad šakarap, okroshka, while Tony Evanko, director of Casa Tres Patios, prepared lentil soup and a traditional Beshbarmak as a sign of cultural respect. Kyrgyi and Colombian music accompanied the cooking. The food was served to the local guest artists and was accompanied by a discussion on art practices in Kyrgyzstan and Colombia. The beautiful evening unfolded with talks on the topics of differences, opportunities and creative potentials.