Prada Marfa installation vandalized over weekend


POSTED: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 11:49am

UPDATED: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 2:35pm

For thousands of tourists who travel the quiet, dusty stretch of Route 90 from Van Horn, TX to Marfa, TX the Prada Marfa exhibit has come to be known as a tourist destination. However, this Sunday morning the tiny art installation was vandalized with blue spray paint on either side of the building along with flyers and a manifesto from the vandal left behind at the scene.

The Jeff Davis Sheriff's office was notified by a passing motorist around 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning that the building had been vandalized, at this time there are no known suspects and authorities claim they are reviewing surveillance footage from the area. The area had rain overnight, but no muddy footprints or tire tracks were seen near the installation, leaving many to speculate that the act of vandalism occured before the rain began around 4:00 a.m.

The vandalism that occurred over the weekend contained flyers from the Tom's Shoe Company's "One for One" campaign and included quotes from French Artist Henry Matisse and Jack Keouac. The graffiti was tagged by a signature of an artist who goes only by the name "9271997."

Marfa Public Radio also reports that a manifesto was tacked to one of the walls outlining the motivation for the vandalism. The author harshly criticizes the installation as "society's apocalyptic theater," and dismisses the Prada Marfa installation as 'a product of an outdated Bourgeoisie.'

A History of Vandalism

Everyone from art students, hipsters, grandmas and even Beyonce have made stops at the art installation that sits just off of Rte 90 near Valentine, TX. The installation, which was finished in 2005 by sculpture artists Emgreen and Dragset, was intended to resemble a Prada store in what the artist called "pop architectural land art project."  However, nothing is as it seems in the tiny building. The glass door is nonfunctional, all the displayed shoes are for the right foot.

A few short days after the installation's completion in 2005, the storefront was broken into and all of the contents (six handbags, 14 right footed shoes) were stolen. The words "Dumb" an "DumDum" were spray painted on the sides of the building. The store was re-stocked with purses missing the bottoms and an elaborate security system was installed that would alert authorities if items are moved.


Prada Marfa as photographed February 27, 2014 by KTSM / A Litton

Uncertain Future

The installation has come under fire in recent years by the Texas Department of Transportation ruled that it considered the project to be a billboard and stated that it does not meet the permitted specifications. TxDot made a similar ruling over a short-lived Playboy "Play Marfa" art installation that sat on private land, but faced the highway. In the Playboy case, the owner was ordered to move the installation due to the fact that Playboy, in part, commissioned the work. Prada Marfa, however, was not commissioned by the designer.

Ballroom Marfa, the entity who is responsible for upkeep on the Prada Marfa installation released a statement early Tuesday morning stating in part, "Public art like Prada Marfa encourages engagement. Ballroom Marfa and Art Production Fund have taken the steps necessary to keep this public forum alive."

Though Ballroom Marfa is accustomed to cleaning up graffiti or vandalism on the art installation, they say that this act was different than previous attempts on the structure. "The large scale defacement of the structure overwhelms this forum and shuts down the dialogue," the statement reads.

As for Prada Marfa's immediate future, Ballroom Marfa and the Art Production Fund will restore Prada Marfa and the site will remain a public site.

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