The famed Prada Marfa was vandalized over the weekend, according to a report by the Big Bend Sentinel. Tourists visiting the West Texas installation on Sunday morning found the side of the building painted a light blue, the dusty colored awnings slashed, and the windows pasted over with posters and quotations.
In addition to the vandalism, defaced Bibles covered with stickers of the TOMS logo, the shoe company based out of California, were strewn about the property.
Though security cameras were not working the night of the destruction, The Sentinel reports that the vandalism is the work of a guerilla artist known as 9271977. At the site of the destruction, 9271977 left a note:
Prada Marfa in its past existence served its purpose, but today in 2014 — for better or worse — society has seen advancement in social connectivity, global war, entitlements, corporate austerity, poverty, destruction of nature, desensitization of life, faltering education, sickness, substance and food abuse, exploitation of indigenous nations, corrupt banking systems, gone amuck free market neo-capitalism, disharmonious politics and impudent religions …
Much of the mess has been cleaned up by gracious tourists, locals and members of Ballroom Marfa, the nonprofit that commissioned the Prada installation. The rest of the repairs are estimated to cost between $10,000 and $20,000.
In text messages exchanged between the artist and reporter John Daniel Garcia, the guerrilla artist defended his actions as art. "I wish that it was analyzed and investigated as an installation it was. Everything was hand selected, painted, built, researched. The quotes were powerful. The questioning of TOMS and the state of America was powerful," the artist supposedly told Garcia.
In a statement on its blog, Ballroom Marfa expressed disappointment that the "large-scale defacement" effectively "shuts down the dialogue" that public art like Prada Marfa is meant to encourage. As for what happens from here, the organization had this to say:
No decisions have been made other than that Ballroom Marfa and Art Production Fund will restore Prada Marfa, and it will remain a public site. We’re close to resolving the widely publicized issues with the Texas Department of Transportation, and we expect Prada Marfa will be around for years to come. It will surely continue to inspire a wide range of commentary; we just hope that a single point of view — one comprised of blue paint, industrial adhesive and insulation foam — will not override and destroy this exchange of ideas.
This is not the first time Prada Marfa has been vandalized. The installation, designed by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset in 2005, has previously been targeted by thieves who broke into the fake store looking for loot (there isn't any), as well as vandals.