Ballroom Marfa Art Fund


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.

Prada Marfa 2014 Vandalism: Ballroom Marfa Statement

11 Mar 2014

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.

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


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


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
Art Production Fund


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?

The New Republic on Prada and Playboy Marfas

28 Jun 2013

image via U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Jason Farago contrasts the Marfa-adjacent public sculpture from Playboy, “the troubled, “aspirational lifestyle brand”” with Elmgreen and Dragset’s Prada Marfa in The New Republic:

It’s one thing, though, for artists like Elmgreen and Dragset, with their evidently ersatz shoe emporium, to mock the larger art world’s absorption by the commercial domain. It’s quite another for a corporation itself to get in on the act, underwriting branded material that’s intended not as a critique of commercialization but as a simple PR opportunity. Enter, then, Richard Phillips—an artist who has made his name through a deft imbrication of high art and the commercial sphere. If you’re familiar with the name, it’s probably thanks to a TMZ-friendly exhibition he mounted at one of Gagosian’s many New York spaces last year: a series of giant paintings of Lindsay Lohan, not photorealist so much as just really, really big. He also won a spate of press coverage for a film he made of Lohan, posing à la Brigitte Bardot in Contempt.

It’s a great read, recognizing both the “cunning” nature of the Playboy project, and the naievete of its more histrionic detractors, saying …

Elmgreen & Dragset in Munich

4 Jun 2013

“It’s Never Too Late To Say Sorry” Elmgreen & Dragset Performance on Odeonsplatz, Munich // Photo: Felix Hoerhager

Prada Marfa honchos Elmgreen & Dragset are busy in Germany. From the A Space Called Public website:

“At the invitation of the City of Munich, Elmgreen & Dragset have curated the ongoing exhibition A Space Called Public / Hoffentlich Öffentlich, which began in January and presents a series of art projects in Munich’s public spaces until the end of September.

The project aims to inspire a renewed debate about the concept of public space today. Like many other major European cities, Munich is confronted with the need to address the significance and value of public space as the relevance of the public sphere undergoes a potentially fundamental shift. Public space has traditionally functioned as a place of assembly, for exchanging ideas, and a forum for urban society. However, due to the impact of digital and social media, these activities are now increasingly moving into the virtual realm. Taking this technological and, by extension, social, shift as a starting-point, A Space Called Public / Hoffentlich Öffentlich poses questions concerning the redefinition of public space. How does a city constitute its own identity in 2013?

The program consists of performative, interactive and idea-based projects as well as other non-monumental statements. Its open structure is designed to take place over many months, creating space for curiosity, discovery and a dialogue with the public as the individual artistic strands evolve together. The exhibition features works by Iván Argote & Pauline Bastard, Han Chong, Funda, Stephen Hall & Li Li Ren, Robert Keil & Helin Alas, Martin Kippenberger, Ragnar Kjartansson, Alexander Laner, Namill, Henrik Olesen, Kirsten Pieroth, Ed Ruscha, David Shrigley, Sissel Tolaas, Tatiana Trouvé, Peter Weibel and Elmgreen & Dragset. A special event will take place on June 6 to mark the occasion of all projects being on view.

A series of lectures and panel discussions will accompany the exhibition at the City Hall Gallery on June 7–8, June 15–16 and July 11–13. The City Hall Gallery will also serve as an exhibition space, information point, and the starting location for tours of the various outdoor venues.”

More info via the A Space Called Public website

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Ronald Rael at Marfa Book Company

25 Apr 2013

For the third installment of Rio Bravo, Joaquim Hamou brings UC Berkeley Professor Ronald Rael to the Marfa Book Company where he’ll be “discussing a series of critical / theoretical / architectural interventions he has designed for the US = MEXICO border.” That’s tonight, Thursday 25 April 2013 at 6pm.

Rael’s 2008 book Earth Architecture features Elmgreen & Dragset’s Prada Marfa installation, Presidio’s Adobe Alliance and several other Far West Texas sites.

A preview of Earth Architecture‘s Prada Marfa section via Google Books:

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60 Minutes on Prada Marfa

15 Apr 2013

As part of their visit to Marfa, 60 Minutes stopped by Prada Marfa, declaring Elmgreen & Dragset’s installation to be “the most bizarre spot in these parts.” Skip ahead to the 11:35 mark in the above video for a brief interview with Boyd Elder, the sculpture’s caretaker.

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“I bet Bill Harding is going to show up and talk about his big lawyer job in San Francisco,” McCabe said.
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Clippers’ center DeAndre Jordan and point guard Chris Paul were named to the NBA’s all defensive first team, the league announced Wednesday.
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