Prada Marfa Saved by Museum Status

Elmgreen and Dragset, Prada Marfa (2005). Photo courtesy of Ballroom Marfa.

Things are looking up for Prada Marfa, the conceptual storefront that Elmgreen & Dragset erected in 2005 on a deserted stretch of the West Texas highway. Last week, the Texas Department of Transportation reached an agreement with the foundation Ballroom Marfa to preserve the sculpture, after nearly one year of negotiations, reports the Art Newspaper.

The government had threatened to shut down the work, a life-size replica of a Prada store, claiming it could be considered an illegal roadside advertisement under the state law. To sidestep the problem, the foundation has leased the land underneath Prada Marfa and registered it as an art museum.

“The site is now an art museum site and the building is their single art exhibit,” Veronica Beyer, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation, told the Texas Tribune.

Elmgreen & Dragset’s installation got under the authorities’ scrutiny last year, after local officials ordered the removal of a nearby Playboy sculpture by Richard Phillips after deeming an illegal advertisement.

Prada Marfa, which has no affiliation with the fashion brand, hasn’t had a quiet existence so far. Since its inauguration, it’s been the target of local vandals, who have caused repeated damages in the form of graffiti and bullet holes (see “TOMS Marfa? Elmgreen and Dragset Sculpture Vandalized Yet Again“). But the most vicious of these attacks took place earlier this year, when the piece was defaced with blue toxic paint, its awnings and windows covered with glue.

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