Prada Marfa by Elmgreen & Dragset

Prada Marfa is an artwork made in 2005. A non-functioning replica of a luxury Prada boutique, but then placed on in the desert in Texas. It was a response to the high-priced commercialism that was quietly gentrifying cities amid the 90s neoliberal economic boom. The artwork has the Prada logos on the facade and shows rows of single shoes and small leather goods on the inside. The collection was donated by Miuccia Prada, a big fan of the project.  The artists imagined that it would end up like the remote Land Art of the 60s and 70s. It would quietly erode into the landscape and at some point just disappear.

 

But O boy, they were wrong.

 

Vandals struck almost immediately. Ripped out its non-functioning door, and took the expensive purses and more than a dozen worthless, right-foot-only shoes. Which created a counter effect, immediately the Art Production Fund was setting up a finance fund for maintenance, “out of respect to the residents of Valentine”. That was just the beginning.  Prada Marfa mutates into a cultural sensation over the years. It has a life on its own, caused by the power of social media. Attracted by countless social media influencers, who placed themselves in front of the 'store' on Instagram. “It became a symbol beyond our expectations, or individual ideas, in good ways and bad,” said Elmgreen. For Dragset, Prada Marfa had become a lens to view the passage of time, “Nothing is worth anything unless you have your face in front of it.”   

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