Featuring Photography Inspired by the City’s Metrocable, Robert Young Showcases His View of Medellín
Robert Young is a professional photographer and artist from Canada who became enthralled by Medellín and recently displayed his images at a reception in a local gallery in the Medellín’s trendy international district known as Poblado. During the reception, visitors came to enjoy the unique way in which Young captured life and landscapes within Colombia’s second largest city.
Above photo: Robert Young (right) discusses his Metrocable photo with a gallery goer in Medellín during his exhibition. (Photo credit: Loren Moss)
Upon arriving in the city, he was particularly taken by the city’s Metrocable, a system of public transportation cable cars that connect marginalized communities on the valley’s hillsides to the rest of the city. To find out more about the creative impulse that led him to document scenes of Medellín, Finance Colombia Executive Editor Loren Moss recently met with the artist for a discussion. Anyone interested in seeing more of his work can visit the Robert Young Gallery online.
Loren Moss: Tell me: Who are you, and what brought you to Medellín? How did you end up having an exhibit here?
Robert Young: Well, of all things, I am a storyteller first and foremost. I booked an Airbnb to spend the month of July here to finish the book that I started three-and-a-half years ago. I figured I didn’t know any Spanish, so I would be forced to focus and get the book done.
Medellín came up on my radar — I’ve seen documentaries about the museums here — and I heard nothing but positive things. So I said “I want to go to Medellín,” and then I came and that was it. And as soon as I got in the Metrocable, I knew I had no choice. A story had to be told.
Loren Moss: As somebody who didn’t have any experience in Medellín, what first struck you? With the eyes of a photographer, what stood out to you first? What did you see?
Robert Young: Metrocable changed everything for me. It was particularly special because I come from parts of the world where people with money live in the hills. It was like reverse psychology here.
But what was more astonishing is for a society to build and spend an incredible amount of money to create new expectations, to give the people an opportunity to get to work, and to get them to the economic center of the city. If you add that to the emotional way you feel when get off at the station, unto itself, it’s art.
For any kid, all they need is an opportunity. Because every day they have vision, and here they have something to see that’s remarkable. That trip changed everything for me.
Loren Moss: It’s fascinating what you say. We’ve had conversations with successive mayors and administrations here, and they say that is exactly the objective that they had. Back in the old days, when they went down, people who lived up in the hill would say, “We are going to go to Medellín.” They didn’t feel like they were part of the city.
You are a storyteller. What is the story that you are trying to tell with this exhibit?
Robert Young: We tend to put people in a box. We put countries in a box. We put societies in a box. We put cities in a box, We put neighborhoods in a box.
At its worst, the box that Medellín was put in was a terrible box. But if you are here, you know the box is alive. It is still inspired, it is still growing, it is still transforming, it is still moving forward. That is everything.
But there are people around the world that don’t know it and haven’t seen it because they have never been here. So what we do is we use knowledge and information to eradicate the ignorance that causes fear. And that idea in all the images I photographed.
Loren Moss: For those that are reading this, do you have a website or you have channels in that one can either purchase or view your work? How can they connect with your art?
Robert Young: I think the best thing about this show is that it’s called “Genesis in Medellín.” The book I came to finish is called “Genesis: The Book of Daily Inspiration.” There are 70 parables of exploration matched with 70 photos from around the world.
I replaced 10 of those photos with the images that are in this show. So the images that were on the wall in the show itself from Medellín and Colombia are in the book. And at Robert Young Gallery you will see all the work.