Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, based in Berlin and London, explore the links between art, architecture, and design in their practice. Regularly engaging in institutional or social critique, their work often deals with important cultural issues, but is always tinged with subversive humour and wit. Erected in 2005 along a desolate patch of U.S. Highway 90 just outside of Valentine, Texas (population 160), Elmgreen and Dragset’s Prada Marfa is a non-functional Prada store featuring items from the actual 2005 Fall-Winter Prada collection. It has been a polarizing sentinel of contemporary art since its unveiling. Art-world aficionados, who have been making pilgrimages to nearby Marfa, Texas, since Donald Judd established it as an art centre in the 1970s, interpret the installation as a surreal object in a setting that has not been corrupted by luxury goods and consumer culture. The general public, however, see it as a representation of art’s elitism and its system’s penchant for gentrification and classism, which is evidenced by the continued battles with vandalism and the local state government, that called the artwork an “illegal billboard.”
More than 3,000 km away, in the starkly modern granite lobby of the Richmond-Adelaide Centre, Prada Marfa is shown as a time-lapse video, captured over a single 24-hour span. Positioned in the heart of the city’s financial district near a high-traffic retail destination, the work furthers Elmgreen and Dragset’s intention for the piece to “trigger debate.” Is Prada Marfa a sinister beacon of the loneliness brought on by vacant capitalism? Or could it be a hazy mirage, a strange memory for those who have stumbled unconsciously upon it?
Presented in partnership with Public Art Management
Supported by Oxford Properties and Sedition