A Prada store in the middle of nowhere? I love it!If you read my Marfa post, then you would know that I added a couple of days to our epic road trip in order to swing down to Marfa JUST TO SEE Prada Marfa. I’m not even a fan of Prada. I prefer to shop at Target and J.Crew. But for some reason, I just love this little art installation in the middle of nowhere.Prada Marfa is a 2005 art installation located by artists Elmgreen and Dragset and is located about 35 miles outside of Marfa near the tiny town of Valentine, TX. It cost $80,000 and was financed and is maintained by the Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa. It was originally built to degrade back into the landscape; however, three days after the sculpture was finished, it was vandalized and thieves stole the handbags and shoes that had been personally picked out and provided by Miuccia Prada from the fall/winter 2005 collection. Ballroom Marfa decided to repair the installation and have maintained it since. The replacement handbags allegedly do not have bottoms and instead house a security system that alerts authorities if the bags are moved.Late last year, I heard that there was a possibility that Prada Marfa might be torn down. Apparently the Texas Department of Transportation is deciding whether or not it is a billboard, or an illegal outdoor advertising sign that does not fit within the specifications of the 1965 Highway Beautification Act. But Prada did not commission the art installation; Miuccia Prada simply approved of it and donated the 6 handbags and 14 right-footed shoes. So why is Texas DOT bitching about it now? Possibly because of the giant Playboy bunny that was erected outside of town by Playboy and has since been moved to a museum in Dallas.In early March about a month before I visited Marfa, Prada Marfa was again vandalized by some idiot, “artist” Joe Magnano from Waco, Texas. (Seriously, what is the water in Waco?) He painted the sides of the building blue, hung TOMS Shoes banners, included a lock box of glitter TOMS Shoes. At first when I heard about it, I thought he was making a comment on Prada by saying that TOMS Shoes is a better company to be “exhibited” since they do good for the world with their One for One campaign; however, I later learned that Magnano takes issue with TOMS Shoes. In his open letter, Magnano wrote, “TOMS became the focal point because I have first hand experience with the brand known for its giving. The project is full of exaggerated satire, sarcasm, comedy (depending on your sense of humor) and factual reality. I questioned the outsourcing of TOMS to China. I questioned TOMS relationship to evangelical groups. I questioned helping others through consumerism. I questioned the ideas of advanced and developing nations. I questioned neocapitalism. I questioned colonization. I questioned celebritism. I questioned; How about helping America?”
In the same letter, Magnano also remarks on how disappointed he was that Ballroom Marfa (the non-profit that maintains Prada Marfa) did not accept his “art.” He wrote: “Knowing the power of art, I was very upset to see the insisted reactions by Ballroom Marfa, to readapt their rules and bylaws towards public engagement/involvement with the piece. Art is iconoclastic. Art is representation of time and progression. Art builds the future. Art is the voice of the people; and when that dialog is censored, controlled and limited, a bigger issue becomes at hand which leads to questioning the health of the art world. Is the art world strictly becoming an environment based on idolism, faction and culture identity based on only the powers that be; so know longer individuality, transparency and progression can evolve with a new breed of artists, especially in America; because that is where the project is located. I was very upset to see the local community come to arms in quick removal of the installation, as if they wanted to hide something, protect something, keep in pristine condition; this Prada Marfa that was intended to be a piece reflecting time.”Yesterday, when writing about Donald Judd’s 15 untitled works in concrete, I voiced my opinion about the concrete blocks and compared Judd’s large art installation to the art installation at Cadillac Ranch where you can graffiti the cars, interact with the art installation, etc., and I remarked that Judd’s concrete boxes would be so much more fun if you could interact with them. That said, I understand that the boxes are Judd’s art, and I would NEVER deface them with my own art installation. There’s a time and place, and I think Magnano picked the wrong place. And he did a shit job. You can see photos of his vandalism here.
If you are going to vandalize something in an effort to make a statement, please at least do a good job. That was a crap paint job, piss-poor job of hanging banners, and just messy. Idiot. Mostly I’m pissed at this moron because I’m probably going to see this thing once and I had to see it with a shitty blue paint job and glue on the windows.