Elmgreen and Dragset’s Prada Marfa installation is under threat. Occupying a desolate stretch of Texas highway, the faux store was created by the Scandinavian duo in 2005 and funded by New York non-profit organisation the Art Production Fund. Its presence has been compromised thanks to a legal dispute earlier this year over a Playboy-sponsored Richard Phillips installation a few miles down the road.
The Texas Department of Transportation classified Phillips’ large ironwork version of the infamous bunny logo as a sign, not an artwork, and has called for its removal because it violates the 1965 Highway Beautification Act (which prevents logos being posted along the highway without a special permit).
Elmgreen and Dragset see the branding on Prada Marfa as essential, stating that “It was meant as a critique of the luxury goods industry, to put a shop in the middle of the desert.” Because the artists are displaying the Prada logo on land where that is prohibited however, their work, too, has now been classified by the Department as an “illegal outdoor advertising sign”.
With the Department of Transportation “still working on the matter”, the fate of Prada Marfa now hangs in the balance. “If they want to remove it because of bureaucracy, we tear it down,” say Elmgreen and Dragset. “And then we can say that one of the quite well-known permanent artworks – that hasn’t cost taxpayers anything and that has been elected one of the most-worth-seeing roadside attractions in the States – is no longer.”