The patio of the castle of Vélez Blanco has lived multiple lives. It is an utterly human, changeable story of shifting fortunes, loss and separation, craft, art, connoisseurship, humor, ambition and collaboration. Removed from its original context in Spain in 1904, the castle courtyard now resides at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.
Curated by Joya: arte + ecología, "Double Self Split" is a major project by New York artist Melissa Marks, comprised of two exhibitions shown concurrently in Andalucía, Spain, August 2016. The first exhibition, inside the 16th Century church of San Luis, includes 16 large drawings, monochrome and color, shown recto/verso in eight standing, double-faced frames, distributed across the nave and aisles of the church. The second exhibition is a massive floor painting created on site as a performance over a three week period in the now empty Patio de Honor of the Castillo de Los Fajardo, Vélez Blanco, Spain.
The image of the two castles that began as one, doubled and split, is 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? 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?
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.