Is it going out of business for Prada Marfa?
By TOM HAINES
VALENTINE – The designer shoes and handbags sitting in the display windows of the Prada Marfa art installation have never been for sale, of course. But after six years of repeated attacks from vandals – from trying to rip the door off with a chain just days after its 2005 opening to recent graffiti “JIM JOE” – it may be time to close up shop.
Michael Elmgreen, who along with fellow Scandinavian Ingar Dragset created Prada Marfa, first expressed his concerns to the Associated Press last week. He reiterated them in a Facebook exchange with the Sentinel Tuesday:
“If the county and the populations of Marfa and Valentine don’t think it is worth to protect the work and actively take over the responsibility of it in the future it might be necessary for us to reconsider the situation and maybe tear down the little but now rather famous building because it is even worse if it just stands there over sprayed with graffiti and bullet holes in its windows and looks like a ruin.”
Back at the time of its installation, a collaboration of the Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa, there was some anticipation that vandalism could occur and that it might even become a part of the work.
In an interview then with the New York Times, Yvonne Force-Villareal said: “If someone sprays graffiti or a cowboy decides to use it as target practice or maybe a mouse or a muskrat makes a home in it, 50 years from now it will be a ruin that is a reflection of the time it was made.”
But this week, Elmgreen qualified that vision.
“The idea was from the beginning to let Prada Marfa age and disintegrate ‘gracefully’ over the years, becoming weathered by sun, dust devils and other natural conditions,” Elmgreen wrote. “But we never had it in mind to accept it to be maliciously damaged by purpose. It might just be some silly teenagers who are bored and who want to make their mark but the repeating attacks on the work are rather disrespectful, we think.”
For now, there are no plans to dismantle the little store that never made a sale. Boyd Elder, who serves as caretaker of Prada Marfa, has said he will remove the existing graffiti and spruce things up yet again.
Added Doreen Rumen, of the Art Production Fund: “Regardless of vandals, we hope to keep Prada Marfa in tact for as long as possible. Many people have yet to visit in person, which we highly recommend for an unforgettable road trip.”
For his part, Elmgreen says they would be happy to donate Prada Marfa to the city or anyone else willing to ensure its upkeep.
“The fact is that both Art Production Fund and we ourselves have put a substantial amount of money into keeping Prada Marfa up and running over the years,” Elmgreen said. “For us, it would be interesting to know if there would be any interest in such a solution locally, or if it has become the final ‘closing time’ for Prada Marfa.”
Story filed under: Arts