Back on October 1, 2005 artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset installed a permanent sculpture resembling a white stucco Prada store similar to one shoppers might find in a ( larger scale) U.S. city. Located 1.4 miles northwest of Valentine, Texas just off U.S. Highway 90, approximately 26 miles northwest of the city of Marfa, the artists collaborated with Prada four years earlier on a spoof project. The concept was to convince passing tourists that a new store was opening in New York.
The minimalist Marfa project was intended to capture the public’s imagination and then deliberately degrade back into the natural landscape. But an amazing bit of magic changed all of that. The appeals by the public numbering hundreds of thousands over the years was elevated after the minimalist art project was struck by vandals, who stole the showroom handbags and shoes.
Financed by the Art Production Fund (APF) and Ballroom Marfa, a center of contemporary art and culture, the circuit sculpture was repaired. For the uninitiated, the small scale white stucco building appears to be a small retail store of the high end design retailer. It is constructed with adobe bricks, plaster, glass pane, aluminum, MDF and carpet.
The artists stated upon its opening, “We really wanted to see what could happen if one would make a fusion of pop and Land art. It was also meant as a comment on branding and consumerist culture”. Hundreds of visitors have left behind business cards around the building’s perimeter, weighed down with rocks. Singer Beyonce passed through Marfa for a look in 2012. Had I not studied the Theatre of the Absurd in college, I doubt that I would have fully appreciated this unique story. Two points: (1.) Is the design one that inspires the imagination? (2.) How does one measure a dream? I’ll elaborate.
If the unique if not extraordinary act of constructing this circuit building is, in fact, someone’s dream and not merely a subject to be marginalized as eccentric, then one could make the argument that the Marfa Prada store serves to remind us that all dreams of goodwill are legitimate and of value.