Melissa Marks:

‘Double Self Split’ agosto 2016



Double_Self_Split_8-FULL-300 copy

Joya: arte + ecología presents:Double Self Split

Melissa Marks

with the endorsement of the Ayuntamiento de Vélez Blanco and the Delegación Territorial de las Consejerías de Cultura, Turismo y Deporte de la Junta de Andalucía.

El Castillo de los Fajardos; Iglesia del Convento de San Luís.

Double Self Split

3rd – 31st August 2016


Iglesia del Convento de San Luís. 3rd August 2016 20.00hrs

El Castillo de los Fajardos. 25th August 2016 20.00hrs


En Español.  Melissa-Marks_español


Joya: arte + ecología are to curate two simultaneous installations by artist Melissa Marks in the ancient village of Vélez Blanco, Almería, Andalucía, Spain.


Installation in the C16th  Iglesia del Convento de San Luis, Vélez Blanco. 16 large composite drawings, monochrome and colour housed in 16 uniform white boxes distributed across the aisles of the church.


A painted installation in the C16th Castillo de Los Fajardos, Vélez Blanco.

The painting will be monochrome black and white, acrylic and pencil on canvas, covering 100m2 of the floor space of the castle’s patio. The work is intended to be viewed from above, from the loggia.


Working Title/Artist: Patio from the Castle of Velez BlancoDepartment: ESDACulture/Period/Location: HB/TOA Date Code: 08Working Date: 1506-15 photography by mma, Digital File DP231729.tif retouched by film and media (jnc) 12_3_10

The castle of Don Pedro Fajardo y Chacôn (ca. 1478– 1546) stands above the town of Vélez Blanco, near the southeastern coast of Spain.Fajardo, raised in the culture of humanism, was governor of Murcia during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella and assisted in suppressing Moorish rebellions in their lands.

By royal act, he was given the town Vélez Blanco, and between 1506 and 1515 he erected a castle with a central courtyard embellished with Italian Renaissance ornament in local Macael marble carved by craftsmen from Lombardy.

The patio’s marble ttings were sold by the castle’s owner in 1904.

George Blumenthal acquired them in Paris in 1913 and had them incorporated in his New York townhouse.

In 1945, after his death and the demolition of his residence, the approximately 2,000 mar- ble blocks were brought to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where they were reas- sembled, as faithfully as possible, in 1964.

Key Ideas:


Taking inspiration from the decorative marble walls of the courtyard of the Castillo de Los Fajardos, Double Self Split is another step in the evolution of ideas which migrated from the animists of ancient Rome to the European Renaissance, to C21st America.The courtyard is embellished with plant forms and hybrid creatures which are synonymous with abstractions from the natural world. They once represented the mythical souls of living things from an age before the boundaries that separated man from nature.

As the fortunes of people and nations declined or rose these ideas became mutable but never the less continued to resonate. The partition of the courtyard from the castle is a varied form for the dissemination of these concepts. Philosophically, however, contemporary deep ecological thinking, in the face of increasing environmental challenges, is bringing us back to the belief that all life has inalienable rights to live and flourish independent of it’s utilitarian value to mankind. The animists of Ancient Rome believed in the spiritual power of nature to define their destiny. Our destiny is once again denied by the diversity and inviolability of our natural world. Melissa Marks’ practice is at the contemporary end of this 2000 year journey. Using her imagination she weaves stories that describe our place amongst life.

Simon Beckmann
Director and Co-Founder of Joya: arte + ecología

05 One Good Turn Deserves Another


The patio of the castle of Vélez Blanco has lived multiple lives. Its trajectory has been extraordinary: from the innovative, humanist surge toward new art and new ideas important in the patio’s conception in early 16th century Spain to an upheaval of monumental proportion culminating in its reconstitution in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; from the generous expression of institutional, academic and historical responsibility fundamental to the patio’s preservation and protection to the heroic leap of imagination and technology required in facilitating its upcoming re-creation.

02 Volitia Looks Ahead



Running alongside this extraordinary trajectory is an utterly human, changeable story of shifting fortunes, loss and separation, craft, art, connoisseurship, humour, ambition and collaboration. Having grown up in New York City, my own affection for and familiarity with the castle’s displaced core were already in place.

I spent my childhood at the Met, wandering around the elegant Spanish courtyard, with its soaring ceiling and pale marble, with its cascading vines and strange beasts.

My first experience with the castle in Spain happened quite by chance in 2010, during a drawing residency at Joya: arte + ecología. I had traveled so far, deep into the beautiful province of Almería, Andalucía, only to find myself inside a room I knew so well.

01 A concentrated outpouring

In retrospect, neither the castle in Spain, nor the patio in New York, ever felt to me to be missing anything. Both places seemed full of opportunity, ripe for further imaginative exploration.The image of the two castles that began as one, doubled and split, has always struck me as a unique invitation to locate where the actual Art resides.

If the marble decoration now at the Met represents the patio’s “skin”, the public facade, the face that greets the guests, viewers, castle goers and art lovers what is left behind after its removal? Without skin, does the empty courtyard represent the castle’s bones? Or was the courtyard stripped to its soul? Does the double trajectory of a divided self make more art and more history? Or does it create a lesser, diminished half story? Is there any instance, version of history or self-reflection, in which “interior” and “exterior” line up, work together, move forward in concert? The contemporary fluidity which allows us to occupy both spaces with relative ease is new and generous.

If the guests, viewers, castle goers and art lovers show up in either of the two spaces, do they have a shot at meeting the castle’s soul? Are there now two different souls? One divided soul?

The patio carvings themselves are full of symmetry, doubling and imaginary hybrid crea- tures. It is the work of Italian craftsmen, carved from local marble, inspired by the redis- covered forms of antiquity.In my imagining, the castle and patio represent an action packed, ricochet story: excavating the past in order to draw the future; connecting the dots between craft, material, art and context; forms derived from Nature provocatively intertwined with Humanist ideas about culture and progress.

Melissa Marks


The trajectory of my own intersection with these incredible places and ideas is the result of an ongoing collaboration with the forward thinking philosophy of Joya: arte + ecología. Their mission provides an open definition of a productive, sustainable ecosystem which includes research, restoration and conservation, science, technology and art in an attempt to establish a meaningful attachment to our societies and the environment. The corporeal roots of their project thrive thanks to their grounded commitment to the history, culture, economy and agricultural practices of their spectacular location in Almería, Spain.

La Iglesia del Convento de San Luis:



Plan of the Iglesia de Convento de San Luis.

The drawing exhibition inside the 16th century Iglesia de San Luis in Vélez Blanco will be comprised of sixteen large composite drawings, monochrome and colour, housed in eight, double-faced, standing frames to be distributed across the nave and aisles of the church. The reappearance of drawings in Vélez Blanco references the dissemination of ideas, architectural forms and decorative motifs via prints and drawings as an influential practice throughout the Renaissance, across Italy and Spain. In a contemporary version of drafted information sharing, new drawings, inspired by the patio’s history and design, will cross the Atlantic back to Spain, five hundred years after the patio was first conceived.


Elevation showing the size of one of the box frames for the installation in the Iglesia de San Luis.

El Castillo de Los Fajardos: 

Plano - obra

A site-specific floor painting is to be created inside the now empty courtyard of the castle of Vélez Blanco. It will be drawn as a performance over a two to three week period. The work becomes a reciprocal cultural gesture from New York to Spain, signaling the next step in an ongoing conversation about relocation and regeneration.Plano con gente

Executed in plan and seen from above, the castle drawing re-envisions motifs from the patio decoration in an abstract landscape with a rotating horizon. Drawing becomes the activity that grounds the connection between soul and hand in the service of creating a new, ephemeral “skin”. Is it possible to envision a future trajectory for the castle as a regenerative source for new art and ideas, a happy parade of new skins and souls, to create a gathering point and concentration of energy that emanates from this special location? A trajectory that simultaneously celebrates its origin and courts change? An utterly human course, expressed by reliance on the steady work of mark-by-mark accumulation. A wide-open, metaphorical road that reaches inside itself, beneath its surface, its exterior, and exposes an interior leap of faith. A self, both doubled and split.








You can see more of Melissa Marks’ work here…



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