Prada Marfa is an art installation located 37 miles northwest of the city of Marfa, Texas just off Route 90. Constructed in October 2005 by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Prada Marfa has become a cultural and road trip hot spot.
Designed to look like a Prada store, the non-functional installation displays actual Prada apparel, shoes and handbags from the fall 2005 collection. The items inside the store were hand chosen by Miuccia Prada herself, who also gave the artists permission to use the Prada trademark and likeness for this work.
The structure itself was designed to provide critical commentary on the ever-increasing influence luxury brands have on our consumer driven culture.
The initial cost of the sculpture is said to be around $80,000 and the artists never intended to repair it. Rather, they wanted to display the natural degradation of the work over time. Sadly, only a few days after the initial opening the piece was vandalized and all contents of the installation were stolen. Therefore the artists decided to remove the spray paint and replace the items inside the mock store. Since then the piece has been left as an undisturbed oddity in the desert.
Interestingly, the Prada Marfa installation was not the first time the artists have used the Prada likeness in their work. In 2001 Dragset and Elmgreen decorated their gallery to resemble a new Prada store undergoing major refurbishments inside. The piece symbolically represented the gentrification of an area through the influx of high-end stores.
Prada Marfa was partly financed by the Art Production Fund (APF), which provides guidance and financial backing for artists to complete their projects. Art.com is proud to support APF through the sale of our WOW collection.
Potential Closure & Legal Issues
Currently the Texas Department of Transportation is discussing whether or not the installation is in violation of local advertising laws. Central to the discussion is the Prada logo prominently displayed on the mock store. The argument is that the logo could be considered to be signage under state and federal law. If that is the case Prada Marfa would be violating the 1965 Highway Beautification Act and the artwork could face destruction.
Prada Marfa’s fate is in discussion now, eight years after its construction, due to the erection of another structure on a nearby plot; a neon Playboy bunny and model car. Local authorities have ordered the Playboy structure be removed, as it does not have a license for outdoor advertising. Unfortunately Prada Marfa is also lacking an advertising permit.
However there is an important distinction between the two pieces: Richard Philips designed The Playboy structure on commission from Playboy whereas Prada Marfa was created independently by the company that bears its likeness.
Fortunately, at the time of writing, no order has been made to remove or alter Prada Marfa.
Save Prada Marfa Project
Want to help ensure that this unique art installation remains for years to come? Support the Art Production Fund’s awareness campaign and help spread the word!