West Texas has a history of faux-ruins. Beginning in the 50s, flatcars arrived from California carrying "Riata." This huge prop became the plywood-thin mansion of Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson in Giant. The mansard-roofed prop bravely weathered the West Texas climate for years. It's last appearance was a cameo appearance in Fandango.
Then there was the Oasis Gas Station for the movie Dancer, Texas, pop. 81 and finally Contrabando - a complete faux-village built just north of the Rio Grande on highway 170 that has appeared in both US and Mexican movies - at least one of them named Contrabando.
But Prada Marfa takes the proverbial cake. Movie sets are meant to be art but seldom are they wry statements. Prada Marfa is (was) both.
It's "Grand-opening" / showing occurred on October 1st, 2005. (My invitation was probably lost in the excitement of hurricane Rita.) When I first saw the photos of the sculpture - I knew that the glass windows and doorway probably didn't see the sunrise of October 2nd. (Actually, the vandals took three days to arrive.)
A time-released time capsule.
The artists and supporters of this project knew this too. Made of earth-friendly earth, this biodegradable adobe building will slowly melt back into the landscape once the looters have removed the merchandise. The slow fade to oblivion will provide countless hours of conversation for motorists driving through West Texas. Starting with simple questions like "What the hell was that?" it's sure to inspire more thoughtful dialogue - like "When is advertising art?" or "When is art advertising?" Or (for really long trips) "What is art, anyway?" My question is: If it wasn't Marfa Prada, then who did sit behind me in 9th grade science?
Texas' most famous outdoor sculpture is probably the weather-worn, graffiti-covered "Cadillac Ranch" outside of Amarillo. It's been baking and freezing in the Panhandle for 30-some years now and still going strong. But like the man said about progress - there's nothing wrong with it - it just went on too long. Prada Marfa may never outlast those bodies by Fisher, but it's already become the most talked about sculpture of the 21st Century - despite the puny traffic count of highway 90.