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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.

Icon Magazine on Prada Marfa

19 Jun 2013

Boyd Elder surveying the property.

Icon Eye‘s Christopher Turner on Judd, Prada Marfa, Marfa. From “Desert Utopia“:

Illuminated at night, with a range of original shoes and handbags displayed in its windows, this Prada store never opens. Pressing your face to the glass reveals the plush carpet inside to be covered in dead flies. A permanent sculpture installed in 2005 by Scandinavian artists Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa, about 40 miles north-west of the town it is named after, is a sort of gatepost that marks the edge of a remote yet popular art park that has bloomed over the past two decades in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert.

The artists describe Prada Marfa as a “pop architectural land art project” and its ironic, minimalist product displays make reference to the work of Marfa’s most famous artist-inhabitant. Donald Judd, a moody Midwesterner with Scottish roots – betrayed in his predilection for kilts, whisky and bagpipe music – arrived in Marfa from New York in the mid-70s. He kept his five-storey cast-iron building in SoHo but, disillusioned with the “glib and harsh” Manhattan art scene and his position in it as a doyen of minimalism (a label he always disavowed), he withdrew to rural Texas for increasingly large parts of the year. In Marfa he created his own utopian mix of elemental art, architecture and furniture and in the process was forced to meditate on the differences between these art forms.

Hyperallergic on Playboy vs. Prada

14 Jun 2013

Tailed jackrabbit lepus californicus rabbit

Hyperallergic is asking a number of questions about the new neon Playboy sign that was installed on highway 90 west of Marfa earlier this week. They’re not alone either, and curious readers looking for more local perspective would be well-served to lurk around the expectedly heated debate on the Marfa Public Radio Facebook page, or read in-depth local coverage from the Big Bend Sentinel.

While the Playboy installation is apparently curated by Neville Wakefield, Playboy’s Creative Director of Special Projects — who was also the curator of Ballroom’s 2011 AutoBody exhibition — it should be said that Ballroom has no direct connection to the installation. Or, as Hyperallergic puts it in their discussion of the inevitable threats of vandalism,

Prada Marfa, the now iconic piece of sculpture by artistic duo Elmgreen and Dragset (which has drawn a fair share of undue comparison to the Playboy project particularly by people outside the art world), was disfigured mere days after its opening and has sustained
numerous acts of vandalism over its eight odd years in existence. When prompted for comment, some speculated on the KRTS Marfa Public Radio Facebook page that the Playboy installation would be “vandalized to the extent of non-use within a month,” while another was more succinct about his thoughts: “target practice.”

This also means that the mildly NSFW spambot Twitter account @sexynudes is now showing up for the first time in our Google Alerts with their coverage of the Playboy project, a somewhat less than auspicious development when it comes to monitoring Marfa’s online presence.

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