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In Prada Marfa Building Battle, Creators Fire Back: It’s Art, Not An Ad

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Categorized Under: Public Art, Uncategorized

The Prada Marfa building brouhaha continues to simmer.

The artists who created the shack-sized structure have fired back, saying it’s art, not advertising.

Prada Marfa is in jeopardy after the Texas Department of Transportation declared earlier this month that the building is illegal because it’s a roadside advertisement.

On the Ballroom Marfa blog, artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragse wrote that they’re surprised that TxDOT is looking into the matter eight years after the work was installed.

“Prada Marfa is firmly positioned within a contemporary understanding of site specific art, but also draws strongly on pop art and land art,” Elmgreen and Dragse wrote in their statement. “In an increasingly commercialized world, we see the independent artistic treatment of all visual signs and signifiers as crucial to a better and wider understanding of our day-to-day surroundings, including the influence of corporations.”

Blame this mess on the Playboy bunny. Over the summer, Playboy installed a 40-foot sign with a neon-lit bunny on the same highway as the Prada Marfa building. But it has not yet determined whether to take similar action against the Prada Marfa.

Prada Marfa is located on State Highway 90 in Jeff Davis County just outside of Valentine, Texas, which is about 40 miles northwest of Marfa. The building has attracted national attention through the years. Tourists stop by the building to snap pictures. Even Beyoncé has acknowledged the building. A picture of her jumping in front of it is posted on her website.

A “Save Prada Marfa” page has been set up on Facebook, which has attracted more than 4,000 “likes.”

“We think it would be a shame for the local community if it disappeared after being there for so long,” Elmgreen and Dragse wrote on the Ballroom Marfa blog.

The building is modeled after a Prada boutique. Prada gave the artists permission to use their logo. The door does not open, which ensures “that the sculpture will never function as a place of commerce,” the artists wrote.

Founder Muccia Prada is interested in contemporary art and donated shoes and bags that have been placed inside, the artists said.

“Prada Marfa never had any commercial link to the fashion brand Prada, unlike the Playboy bunny which went up this summer initiated by Playboy itself,” Elmgreen and Dragse said.