Prada Marfa, 2005
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
Where is Prada Marfa?