Prada Marfa has got to be one of the most famous art installations of recent years. It’s such a delightful and cheeky work, using the real Prada logo and real Prada products (from their 2005 collection).
But most interesting to me is the dissonance between the original intention of the piece and what’s happened in the years since it was installed.
Set in the beautiful West Texas desert in the town of Valentine a short drive from Marfa, it is the work of Elmgreen and Dragset. The intention had been to construct it and then let the building slowly degrade, falling to pieces as the desert reclaimed it.
If you look now, you’ll see that it is, indeed, degrading. Dead flies litter the inside of the store. There are tears on the awning.
But what happened six days after the completion of Prada Marfa in 2005 changed the trajectory for this piece. It was vandalized, the products stolen and covered in graffiti. The work was restored.
Then, in April 2014, the Texas Department of Transportation claimed it was a billboard (despite it not being produced by or for Prada) and that it should be removed. In September, it was decided to reclassify Prada Marfa as a museum with a single exhibit.
A work designed to deteriorate slowly, is becoming an increasingly permanent fixture.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this piece and, in fact, I delight in its gradually altering status. A massive thank you to Ballroom Marfa for partially funding and supporting this piece.
Address: Along the 90, just north of Valentine, TX.
Visible: 24/7 (it’s illuminated at night)