Met with Tony who founded Casa Tres Patios, an art space which is supportive of experimental and social art.  A New Mexican native, he came to Medellin more than ten years ago with a research scholarship, and then

He shared with me the metro culture, la cultura metro, which is the disciplined behavior in the metro. With police presence in the metro, people are extremely well-behaved. This is a big contrast to the chaos in the city center of Medellin, or to the traffic situation. His opinion is that with police presence at the metro platform, people are behaving according to the rules, knowing that someone is watching. Although I am not aware of the police presence, the situation sounds like the panopticon, a prison model idea where it is a round structure with all the prison cell, with one watchmen/guard in a central pillar. With the idea that a prison guard watching, inmates are behaving according to all the rules for fear of being caught. They are also watching each other, which result in a second level of control. This prison model was never used but acts as a good reference for studies on discipline after. It was popularized by French philosopher Michel Foucault. He is most famous for his work on discipline, in his book Discipline and Punish. 

The panopticon prison model, invoked by Michel Foucault.

As we discussed citizen behavior, he also shared with me the broken glass theory from The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: people who commit vandalism see that public facilities, for example, broken windows, or walls with graffiti, have not been replaced or covered, then it encourages more illegal behavior. However, if it has been recovered, it is a good way to discourage such behavior.

Tony from Casa Tres Patio, an experimental and social art space in Medellin.
Tony from Casa Tres Patio, an experimental and social art space in Medellin.

As a New Mexican native in the United States, he came to Medellin for on a Fulbright Scholarship. He saw the opportunity and decided that he wanted to do something bigger than himself, instead of focusing on his own work, he wanted to create a space to help other artists, which is devoting to a cause that is bigger than himself. He felt that he could make a bigger impact on his behalf here than if he were to go to New York City. Being in a second tier city gives more freedom to focus on one’s work, instead of having to follow a market trend to make ends meet. He wants his students to understand this, instead of trying to go to the big art hubs in the world, that it is a privilege to be based something not in the center of the radar for one’s full artistic expression.

Casa Tres Patios
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