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Prada Marfa Update: Restoration Underway

17 Feb 2015

Prada Marfa Repair 4

Restoration is underway at Prada Marfa, as Deputy Director Katherine Shaugnessy reports back with these photos from outside of Valentine. The work on Elmgreen and Dragset’s installation will continue over the next few weeks as we replace the awnings and glass that were damaged in the 2014 site vandalism.

 

For more information on Prada Marfa — including an official clarification of our policy regarding its maintenance — take a look at our Prada Marfa Explainer.

Prada Marfa Repair 5

Prada Marfa Repair 3

Prada Marfa Repair 2

Prada Marfa Repair 1

BREAKING: Prada Marfa is Saved!

12 Sep 2014

Boyd Elder surveying the property.

After a series of productive negotiations with the Texas Department of Transportation, Prada Marfa is officially saved. The official statement from TxDOT’s Veronica Beyer is below. More details coming from Art Production Fund,Ballroom Marfa and Elmgreen & Dragset next week!

 

As of February 1, 2014, the Ballroom Marfa Foundation, a domestic nonprofit corporation, has leased the property on which the building stands. The site is now an art museum site and the building is their single art exhibit. As such, associated signage on the building is now considered to be an “on-premise” sign under state rules and does not require a state permit under the Highway Beautification Act.

The lease is currently being reviewed, but with the execution of the lease,

the complaint file will be closed.

 

Ballroom Marfa is immensely grateful for the outpouring of support that we’ve received for Prada Marfa. To read more about Elmgreen & Dragset’s iconic sculptural installation, please visit our official Prada Marfa Explainer.

For more background on the TxDOT decision, see Juan Carlos Llorca’s story for the Associated Press.

If you’d like to support Ballroom Marfa as we continue to maintain the Prada Marfa site, and as we embark on even more inspiring and provocative public art projects, please become a member today! Click here to learn more.

Vogue on “The Evolution of Prada Marfa”

29 Apr 2014

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Photo: Thessaly La Force

Vogue‘s Thessaly La Force and Katherine Bernard recently visited Prada Marfa (post-vandalism) with friend of Ballroom, Alec Friedman. La Force recounts her experience of the work and discusses its continued evolution.

An excerpt:

“The installation was initially meant as a sort of an experiment,” Elmgreen & Dragset explained recently (the two were in Hong Kong for the opening of a new show at Perrotin). “We really wanted to see what could happen if one would make a fusion of pop and Land art. It was also meant as a comment on branding and consumerist culture.” The sculpture was announced in the fall in The New York Times. “We loved the idea of the piece being born on October 1 and that it will never again be maintained,” Villareal told Eric Wilson of the Times. “If someone spray-paints graffiti or a cowboy decides to use it as target practice or maybe a mouse or a muskrat makes a home in it, 50 years from now it will be a ruin that is a reflection of the time it was made.”

But since then, Prada Marfa has become such a target for vandalism that the spirit of the sculpture has changed. Within days of its unveiling in 2005, a thief broke the windows and ran off with the loot. The bags were replaced with GPS trackers, and their bottoms were cut out to discourage further theft….

In a way, this all seemed manageable until earlier this March, when a serious act of vandalism wrecked the sculpture. Prada Marfa was haphazardly splashed in blue paint on either sides; its awning was slashed; and the vandal tacked on incomprehensible signs with a strong adhesive glue that ruined the storefront’s Plexiglas….

When we arrived at Prada Marfa, it was disappointing to behold the damage. The slashed awning and the smears of brown glue on the windows diminished the elegant spectacle it had once been—we walked past the blue-painted adobe walls and peered at the preserved handbags and the shoes. But it was still, in a way, strange beauty in the middle of the desert. And so we posed, like everyone before us, and hopefully everyone after. Later, I would find this quote from Miuccia Prada: “Nostalgia is a very complicated subject for me. I’m attracted by nostalgia but I refuse it intellectually.” But whatever it is—Prada Marfa has its own life now. “It has turned into something beyond our control,” Elmgreen & Dragset said. “And that is the best thing an artist can experience. As artists we are only here in order to trigger a debate, to provide platforms for other people’s interpretations.”

To continue reading, visit Vogue.

If you would like to learn more about Prada Marfa, please read Ballroom’s updated Explainer.

Prada Marfa 2014 Vandalism: Ballroom Marfa Statement

11 Mar 2014

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Photo: Rita Weigart

Elmgreen & Dragset’s Prada Marfa installation has provoked a number of reactions since it was constructed in 2005. Most responses take the form of playful snapshots while some would-be art critics register their thoughts in spent shell casings and graffiti. This is Far West Texas, and we would expect nothing less.

Public art like Prada Marfa encourages engagement. Ballroom Marfa and Art Production Fund have taken the steps necessary to keep this public forum alive, whether that means passing around another photo of someone imitating Beyoncé’s leap, painting over a few months of accumulated graffiti or patching up the bullet holes in the windows.

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Photo: Rita Weigart

The most recent vandalism of the public Prada Marfa site is different. The large scale defacement of the structure overwhelms this forum and shuts down the dialogue. A site previously recognized as an example of sustainable earth architecture is now coated in toxic paint while the insulation foam garbage left behind by the defacer(s) blows across the highway and into the landscape. Spring breakers still stop to see the installation, but now there are Jeff Davis County deputies on scene as well.

No decisions have been made other than that Ballroom Marfa and Art Production Fund will restore Prada Marfa, and it will remain a public site. We’re close to resolving the widely publicized issues with the Texas Department of Transportation, and we expect Prada Marfa will be around for years to come. It will surely continue to inspire a wide range of commentary; we just hope that a single point of view — one comprised of blue paint, industrial adhesive and insulation foam — will not override and destroy this exchange of ideas.

For more on Prada Marfa, please see our Prada Marfa Explainer.

To support Ballroom Marfa and public art projects like Prada Marfa, visit our membership page.

Prada Marfa: An Explainer

27 Sep 2013

James Evans, Prada Marfa, 2005
James Evans
Prada Marfa, 2005
Digital photograph
40 x 50 inches (unframed)
Limited edition available from Ballroom Marfa

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Prada Marfa: An Explainer

What is Prada Marfa?

Prada Marfa is a site-specific, permanent land art project by artists Elmgreen & Dragset constructed in 2005. Modeled after a Prada boutique, the inaccessible interior of the structure includes luxury goods from Prada’s fall collection from that year. The door does not open, ensuring that the sculpture will never function as a place of commerce. Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa co-produced the project.

Prada Marfa is an artwork initiated by ourselves and realized in a collaboration with the not-for-profit cultural organizations Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa in 2005. It was not a work commissioned by the fashion brand Prada nor had the fashion brand any involvement in the creation of this work. They kindly gave us the permission to use their logo after we asked them, due to the founder Miuccia Prada’s personal interest in contemporary art, and she donated shoes and bags, which have never been renewed but stay the same – as a historic display – inside the sculpture. The right definition of advertisement must be based on criteria more accurate than just including any sign which contains a logo. It is advertisement only when a company either commissions someone to make such a sign, pays for its execution or makes a sign themselves in order to promote the company’s products. And this is not the case here since Prada Marfa never had any commercial link to the fashion brand Prada, unlike the Playboy bunny which went up this summer initiated by Playboy itself.

Prada Marfa is firmly positioned within a contemporary understanding of site specific art, but also draws strongly on pop art and land art – two art forms which were conceived and thrived especially in the USA from the 1960’s and onwards. Many artists, from Andy Warhol with his famous Campbell soup cans to Andreas Gursky with his grand photographic documentation of retail spaces have appropriated and dealt with the visual language of commercial brands. In an increasingly commercialized world, we see the independent artistic treatment of all visual signs and signifiers as crucial to a better and wider understanding of our day-to-day surroundings, including the influence of corporations.

It comes as a big surprise for us that the Texas Department of Transportation now after eight years may declare this well-known artwork to be illegal and we think it would be a shame for the local community if it disappeared after being there for so long since the work clearly is one of the strong points for the cultural tourism, which is such an important financial factor in this region. However, we are very happy to experience the fantastic support from both art professionals internationally, locals and others, who have even created a Facebook page named “Save Prada Marfa” that after just a short while has received almost 4000 likes and daily receives plenty of new posts, stories and images from people who once visited this site.

— Elmgreen & Dragset

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Within our 13 years of producing and presenting important public art, few works have been as eagerly embraced than Prada Marfa by Elmgreen & Dragset. With full integrity, the artists refused for us to ask any corporation, especially Prada, for monetary donations to support the making of this project. It took us over a year of intense fundraising from local and international private patrons to realize this authentic and pure permanent artwork. The family of the late Walter Alton “Slim” Brown, even generously contributed to the project by lending their land. Great public art empowers people and gives them alternate ways to understand the times that we live in; Prada Marfa is a civic gift that has become one of the great worldwide pop icons.

– Yvonne Force Villareal & Doreen Remen
Co-founders
Art Production Fund

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Prada Marfa is a living sculpture, an installation that has taken on a life of its own. In the eight years since its creation, Elmgreen & Dragset’s work has become part of the cultural and physical landscape of Far West Texas. At the same time it has entered into international art history discourse. It’s part of what people think of when they think of Marfa, either as art lovers on a pilgrimage, or as surprised passersby.

It’s also a non-profit project — supported entirely by funds from foundations and individuals — and the antithesis of commercialism. Prada Marfa is an embodiment of the Ballroom Marfa mission to combine innovation and accessibility without compromising on either front. We are encouraging engagement with art, and Prada Marfa is an important precursor to other public art projects in Marfa and Far West Texas.

– Fairfax Dorn
Co-founder and Artistic Director
Ballroom Marfa

Where is Prada Marfa?