Prada Marfa

Prada Marfa

In which I realize I don’t understand art.

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere in Texas, there is a fake Prada store surrounded by nothing more than fields of nothing and a lonely road.

Approaching the town of Marfa.

I had heard about this little place before and had wanted to check it out for some time.  Even with it on my GPS, I still almost went right by it because it truly comes out of nowhere.  Part of the problem in finding it lies in the name itself – while it’s called “Prada Marfa”, it’s a solid 40 miles away from the town of Marfa, TX.  Instead, the installation is about a mile away from a struggling town called Valentine, with a population of less than 200 people.

If art is about making someone stop and investigate, then this passes the test.

“Opened” in October of 2005, this store enjoyed an incredible amount of press due to the bizarre situation.  Of course, this press brought attention from certain nefarious types, and only a few days after opening, vandals broke in.  They stole all the merchandise and tagged in the interior with comments like “Dumb”.

All the items were apparently hand-picked from the 2005 catalog by Miuccia Prada herself.

The day after the break-in, the original creators came back and refurbished the building.  They replaced the windows with bulletproof Lexan, only displayed right-footed shoes, added security cameras, and removed the bottoms of the purses and replaced them with a mechanism that would alert local authorities if the purses were disturbed.  I don’t believe the last security measure was actually implemented, but the Lexan certainly was:

Oh, Texan stereotypes.

While the original intent was for the store to gradually break down with time, it seems that maintenance crews visit every once in a while to replace lights and generally tend to the installation.  It cost $80 grand to build, and who knows how much to repair, but it definitely gets people to stop and check it out.  And if that’s enough to help infuse the local town with enough tourism cash keep things afloat, then it doesn’t matter if it’s art or not.

It doesn’t explain why, but it does give a bit more understanding of how.

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