Prada Marfa has aged over time, and it still features the original, now-out-of-season luxury merchandise. Elmgreen & Dragset believe the biggest change has been the work’s increased online presence. (They note that, in 2005, Instagram wasn’t even around yet.) Beyoncé’s fandom, and the fact that a sign with mileage to Prada Marfa once adorned a Gossip Girl set, helped launch a massive audience. “Its popularity has grown in conjunction with Marfa’s as a hip art destination to visit,” the artists say.
At first, Elmgreen & Dragset wanted to let the sculpture decay without intervention or conservation, but the community opted to repair it after some episodes of vandalism (graffiti, break-ins). Over time, various tags have read “Dumb” and “Dum Dum,” and one offender posted TOMS shoes stickers all over the window in 2014. Local artist Boyd Elder now serves as Prada Marfa’s caretaker. Overtime, the sculpture has helped define the local landscape.
As for Prada, the label willingly loaned its color code, interior, shoes, and bags. “They were so cool about it, even though they understood the underlying criticism,” Elmgreen & Dragset offer. If the faux shop uses unexpected architecture to raise ideas about displacement, it also provides windows that look out onto enviable territory that’s ultimately inaccessible to the viewer. Come to think of it, that’s a bit like Instagram itself.