Despite the attention it was getting thanks to Beyoncé and the "Save Prada Marfa" campaign, artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset's Prada store sculpture out in Texas couldn't win over everyone. Prada Marfa was recently defaced by unknown vandals armed with spraypaint and stencils. The vandalism happened at some point over the weekend, and the aftermath was captured by a passerby and posted to YouTube. In addition to graffiti and stenciled pieces around the exterior, the building was also covered in flags from the popular shoe company, TOMS.
According to Hyperallergic, pamphlets were left at the sculpture with the following message from those responsible: "TOMS Marfa will bring greater inspiration to consumer Americans to give all they have to developing nations that suffer disease starvation and corruption … So long as you buy TOMS shoes, and endorse Jesus Christ as your savior, welcoming the ‘white’ him into your heart. So help you God, otherwise your damned to hell … Welcome to your Apocalypse?" The "Save Prada Marfa" Facebook page shared a report of the vandalism with the caption "It's sad when some obviously disturbed individuals seek attention by defacing someone else's work."
In an official statement from the nonprofit that commissioned the sculpture, Ballroom Marfa, a representative wrote: "Elmgreen & Dragset’s Prada Marfa installation has provoked a number of reactions since it was constructed in 2005. Most responses take the form of playful snapshots while some would-be art critics register their thoughts in spent shell casings and graffiti. This is Far West Texas, and we would expect nothing less."
The statement continues by saying that the "large scale defacement of the structure overwhelms this forum and shuts down the dialogue." Ballroom Marfa announced that the site will be restored and will remain a public site, and ended their statement with, "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."
UPDATE MARCH 24, 2014 11:14 A.M. ET: Joseph Magnano, the artist known as 9271977, was arrested Tuesday for covering Prada Marfa in TOMS banners. He is facing charges of arson, vandalism, and criminal mischief, but he claims that his act of vandalism was actually an act of art.
"There was no destruction here," Maganano told Dazed in an interview. "Prada Marfa was just a canvas for TOMS Marfa. That's how I view it one hundred percent, I stand by that and I believe in it. It was absolutely art and nothing else." He went onto say, "Nine years ago, Prada was the right brand to be an anomaly in the middle of the desert, but now we live in a TOMS culture."
Joseph Magnano's mugshot / Image via artnet