By Jordan Grant
I know I wasn’t the only one who’s first thought was “wait, what?” when the first photo of the Prada Marfa store popped up in the slideshow. It’s a surprising and interesting concept to unravel before deeming it successful or just silly. It raises too many questions left without answers.
First of all, the location- located on US Route 90 between Valentine and Marfa, Texas. Why? Why Texas, why a small town in Texas, why outside of city limits in a completely empty landscape? To answer this, let me clarify a few points. Prada Marfa is not financed by the Prada brand. It’s financed by a non-profit in Marfa, who adopted the project of two sculpture artists (from Norway and Denmark, who met in Berlin) after they slyly created some false advertisement in Chelsea, New York City, New York. At least the artists had the approval of Prada at this point, though not any money from them. Yet it caught the sight of the non-profit that later financed the project and chose the location.
Now the sculpture enters planning and creation mode- the artists were given $80,000 to create their sculpture, which they have decided in advance that it will never see any repairs and that it will be allowed to become a broken, ruined building to fade into the sparse landscape of the site. Quoted from the artists themselves in a newspaper article, “It was produced by Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen through their nonprofit Art Production Fund, and they said last week that they intended to forgo maintenance and let time ravage the $80,000 sculpture so that ‘50 years from now it will be a ruin that is a reflection of the time it was made.’” Basically put, the adobe bricks, glass panes, plaster, MDF, carpet, aluminum and paint are going to be left without maintenance in the middle of what appears to be a desert. Already this is beginning to sound like a wasteful and ridiculous project to me.
|The probable future of Prada Marfa|
So 2005 comes along after 2 hard years in the making and, hooray, a celebration is thrown for the opening of a store with no working doors (wrap your mind around the irony of that). It’s a 25 foot by 15 foot sculpture with stucco walls and minimalist display that shows pieces chosen by Prada from their 2005 collection. Three days later it’s discovered that all 6 handbags and 14 right-footed shoes are missing, the glass smashed, and the words “dum dum” spray-painted on the side of the store. Though put ineloquently, the vandals share my sentiments towards the project. The creators immediately take back the whole part of the concept where the sculpture will never see any repairs and the store is quickly returned to its restored and restocked condition.
What would you find there today? Rocks piled on the ledges, holding down business cards of passing visitors. Peeking in the window at the shoes would also show you a whole lot of dead moths littering the carpet. Ruin has begun to take ahold of the building.
This project previously held for me a sense of whimsical charm, curiosity and some respect. After doing a little bit of research though, I find myself very opposed to this project- $80,000 down the drain, funded by a non-profit instead of the recipients of the glorified billboard in the middle of the desert that attracts vandalism and will one day litter the landscape with its non-degradable materials put there fully knowing that the building would never see maintenance (in theory, only time will tell if they will restore the building should it be vandalized again). It amazes me that more people have not offered commentary on the building, no more than the announcements of the opening in 2005 and no updates or concern on its current and future condition.