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Prada Marfa

An apparition in the void of the Texan desert

It has been there since October 1, 2005. In Western Texas, on the border with Mexico, 40 km from the town of Marfa, 2,000 inhabitants lost in the Chihuahuan desert. In the void that runs alongside the state motorway U.S.90, travelled only by the lorries and the pick-up trucks of ranch owners in the area, is the bogus Prada boutique run by two Scandinavian artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. A perfect replica: the same chic, minimalist lines and light colours, but with nary a shop assistant in sight. A completely sealed capsule, with shoes and bags from the 2005 Autumn/Winter collection transformed from cult objects into works of art. The back-lit shelves, the white walls, the low tables, and the cream coloured carpeting create a brilliant contrast with the surreal and wild context around the building: the red and blue of the sky, the green of the vegetation, the brown of the earth.

― The desirability of the merchandise imprisoned in a sealed capsule

It is an artistic installation financed by Art Production Fund and Ballroom Marfa, a contemporary culture centre founded in 2003 that is always interested in projects and experimentation. It is an idea that has also garnered Miuccua Prada’s seal of approval, the artists having been granted her permission to use the logo. The famed designer also selected and donated twenty right shoes and six bags to be displayed in the installation. Purposefully abandoned without maintenance, marred by storms that nevertheless do not destroy it, Prada Marfa increases the desirability of the objects, while nevertheless prohibiting any contact with them. Elmgreen&Dragset’s creation is a reflection on a culture of consumption, especially in the fashion sector, where every six months new trends are launched and the old ones are deemed passé. Formally useless, like the desirability of merchandise imprisoned in a sealed capsule. Unless they are presented as timeless works of art. Classics, before being obsolete.

Alessandro Di Giacomo