Located in the middle of nowhere, Prada Marfa is a unique Prada store imitation that can be found the state of Texas, USA. Contrary to what its name may suggest, this permanently-installed artwork situated in the center of the West Texas desert is not really in the city of Marfa, but a few miles away from the town of Valentine. It was described by the artists responsible for its construction as a “pop architectural land art project” and was inaugurated in October, 2005.
Prada Marfa was conceived by Danish-born Michael Elmgreen and Norwegian-born Ingar Dragset, whose working partnership dates back to 1995. The structure was constructed with biodegradable abode bricks, plaster, aluminum frame, glass pane and paint. It was designed to look like a Prada store, although it is not a store where transactions can be carried out. Elmgreen and Dragset brought on architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello to help install the land art work.
An estimated $80,000 was spent to install Prada Marfa, with financing for the project provided by the Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa. Muccia Prada gave Elmgreen and Dragset permission to use her trademark for the project. She also donated some Prada merchandise items to be displayed in the two large windows of the structure. This is rather surprising given the artists intended the art work as a criticism of Western consumerism and materialism.
Maintenance and Activities of Vandals
Prada Marfa was originally intended to be at the mercy of visitors and the elements — that is, there was no definite plan to maintain it. It was expected to gradually degrade till it becomes one with the natural landscape. However, it soon became apparent that the structure cannot be left without maintenance for reasons bordering on aesthetics and safety.
Vandals descended upon the sculpture few days after it was officially inaugurated, carting away all the shoes and handbags on display and defacing its walls. Elmgreen and Dragset were forced into renovating the structure and restocking it. This time, however, security measures were put in place. Prada Marfa was again vandalized in March 2014 and splashed with blue paint.
About eight years after the installation of Prada Marfa, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) labeled the sculpture an illegal advertisement for Prada and threatened to have it removed. This decision was welcomed with criticisms from concerned individuals, both locally and internationally. A “Save Prada Marfa” page also appeared on Facebook to protest the decision being proposed by the TxDOT.
As of September 2014, the TxDOT has reached a decision to classify the piece of land on which Prada Marfa stands as an art museum, with the sculpture considered its only exhibit. This also removes the need for a state permit to be obtained for the signage on site in accordance with the Highway Beautification Act.
When On Earth Magazine is for people who love travel. We provide informative travel guides, tips, ideas and advice regarding places to see, things to do, what to taste, and much more for world travelers seeking their next dream vacation destination.