August 30 2014

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The State Of Texas Vs. Prada Marfa


Prada Marfa

Even if you’ve never seen Prada Marfa—and unless you’ve made a pilgrimage to rural Texas’ unlikely outpost of conceptual art, you probably haven’t—you’ve no doubt heard of it. The eerie adobe installation in the middle of the Texas desert was created by the artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset in 2005. Though it is made to resemble a store, it is arguably more of a sculpture, given that it’s not open for business (or open at all—the doors are permanently locked). And it is not an official Prada location, though Elmgreen and Dragset did receive the company’s permission to use the logo, and the house donated Prada bags and shoes for the windows, albeit bottomless bags and only right shoes to prevent looting.

Most critics see Prada as a comment of sorts on consumer culture. Is it also an advertisement for a luxury brand? That’s what the Texas Department of Transportation is now arguing. And for that reason, the installation is in jeopardy of being removed.

“According to law, Prada Marfa is considered outdoor advertising, and a state license and permit are required. Prada Marfa does not have either of those,” said Texas Department of Transportation representative Veronica Beyer. “Obviously we appreciate artwork, and we enjoy seeing it across our beautiful state. But like all other outdoor signs, we have to make sure that they follow federal and state law,” she continued. “The real big issue here is that 10 percent of our federal transportation funding is tied to us following these laws. We are at risk of losing 10 percent of federal highway funding—which is huge for Texas.” When asked if the federal government had actually made any such threat, Beyer responded, “We need to check that out for you.” Continue Reading “The State Of Texas Vs. Prada Marfa” »