Joya: curate / contemporary art, rurality and the cultural fulcrum
Joya: arte + ecología, working with local and regional government, collaborators and willing supporters aims to bring the manifestations of contemporary art to rural Spain, especially the region of Vélez Blanco and the Parque Natural Sierra María - Los Vélez.
As an association (non profit) it is the intention of Joya: arte + ecología to curate contemporary art in Los Vélez as a means of supporting local economies and ecosystems via thought provoking cultural and sustainable projects.
Since the Joya: arte + ecología curated Ecoarttech at CAC Málaga and Hondakin Bilbao and two installations by Melissa Marks in the castle and convent of Vélez Blanco we are committed to curating contemporary art in this region as an attempt to address the asymmetric imbalance between human activity and the need to preserve bio diverse ecosystems as cultural heritage.
Joya: curate / #3 / Double Self Split / Melissa Marks
The Castle of Don Pedro Fajardo y Chacón (ca. 1478–1546) stands above the town of Vélez Blanco, near the south-eastern coast of Spain. Fajardo 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 of Vélez Blanco, and between 1506-1515 he erected a castle with a central courtyard embellished with Italian Renaissance ornament in local Macael marble carved by Lombardy craftsmen.
The patio’s marble fittings were sold by the castle’s owner in 1904. George Blumenthal acquired them in Paris in 1913 and had them incorporated into his New York townhouse. In 1945, after his death and the demolition of his residence, the approximately 2,000 marble blocks were brought to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where they were reassembled as faithfully as possible in 1964.
Double Self Split – August 2016, two simultaneous installations by New York artist Melissa Marks curated by Joya: arte + ecología.
The two installations were created within the historic village of Vélez Blanco in the province of Almería, Andalucía, Spain.
The principal installation was made within the courtyard of the C16th Castillo de Los Fajardo. The work was part performance, part exhibition, and manifested as a 100 square meter monochrome floor painting/drawing created over a three-week period.
The second installation was made within the church of the C16th Iglesia de San Luis. Sixteen large composite drawings, monochrome and colour, exhibited in large, uniform white display boxes distributed across the nave and aisles of the church.
The courtyard of the castle, El Patio de Honor, now resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This project was conceived as a ‘re-envisioning’ of motifs from the original decoration in the original location of the courtyard. The intention was to create a reciprocal cultural gesture from contemporary New York to the heart of Renaissance Spain.
Installation: El Patio de Honor
Melissa Marks created a 100-square-meter floor painting over the duration of three weeks in the central patio of the castle. Viewers were invited to witness the creation of the work as a performance during its formation.
EL PAIS / Review
Joya: el castillo / Outcomes
The Melissa Marks / Joya: arte + ecología collaboration was intended to re-contextualise and evaluate the history of an object, the Patio de Honor.
The cultural forces that initiated the design ideas used in the original courtyard came from ancient Rome and now reside in the most contemporary of metropolises, New York. This ‘passage’ of ideas associated with the courtyard has been manifested through design set out on paper, by the construction of the original edifice, by the physical transference of the object itself and by this reciprocal cultural gesture back to the original container, the Castillo de Los Fajardo in Spain.
In this instance, this event, Double Self Split has gathered before it all the ideas incumbent in this history, simultaneously breathing new life into the exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum and celebrating the history of the architecture that once lived in the castle, whilst attempting to define our place amongst nature.
On measure the collaboration / exhibition / installation was a huge success. Goals set out in reference to the exhibition in the Convento de San Luis were achieved with extremely positive results. The community attended the opening with alacrity and returned repeatedly over the duration of the exhibition. The performative nature of the work in the Patio de Honor drew large amounts of people, both local and coming from afar to see the work being created.
The project generated newspaper articles nationally with a feature in EL PAIS as well as regionally in DIARIO DE ALMERÍA, IDEAL, LA VOZ DE ALMERÍA and LOS VÉLEZ HOY. The project also drew the attention of television media appearing on Andalucía’s CANAL SUR. The final ‘opening’ was also attended by the Junta de Andalucía’s minister for culture Alfredo Valdivia Ayala.
Spanish rural regions and the communities that live in them, such as Comarca de Los Vélez, need cultural and sustainable tourism to survive. Climate change is having significant affects upon agricultural practices here and populations need to be sustained if the heritage of cultural centres and landscapes are to be maintained. The contribution this project has made in ameliorating this situation is majorly significant as a cultural contribution to the region amongst others created under the auspices of the Town Hall of Vélez Blanco.
By contextualising the heritage of the original object in the original situation using contemporary aesthetics from the hometown of where that object now resides, is to express the value of this object to the collection it is now a part of. Double Self Split highlights a fixture which, like so many, can be so often overlooked as part of a permanent display. In counterpoint, the work of Melissa Marks here in Los Vélez shines a Spanish light upon the Metropolitan Museum and the vitality of old world treasures to the minds of contemporary visitors.
Public institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum and the Junta de Andalucía’s Council of Culture, through their tremendous endeavours to preserve, protect and present antiquities of world significance, are now in the vanguard of cultural globalisation. The international influence these institutions can exert for the preservation of our shared cultural inheritance is undeniable. The Melissa Marks / Joya: arte + ecología collaboration has used contemporary art and thinking as a way of examining the relationship between the history of an object and the history of ideas associated with that object.
As we need new words to describe Anthropogenic events we need new ways to understand the past as the environment around us changes. As the fate of our antiquities succumbs to conflict and climate change independent projects such as Double Self Split cast a new eye upon the cultural importance of our historical artefacts, contributing to the argument for preserving our global culture.
Part of Joya: arte + ecología’s mandate is to celebrate the culture and history of the region of Almería. By curating Melissa Marks in the Castillo de Los Fajardo Joya: has brought in an outside agency to celebrate the heritage of this region. Young and older members have found a shared pride in discovering or having acknowledged their contribution to a significant cultural icon.
Joya: arte + ecología, as a small not for profit arts organisation, has fulfilled its mandate as a Spanish ‘asociación’. The organisation’s intention to draw contemporary cultural attention to this rural situation, to celebrate local heritage from a present day perspective, to promote significant but sometimes underexposed artists to a global audience and to raise awareness of environmental issues has been a complete success.