The ever-timely Elmgreen & Dragset have been honoured with a cameo appearence of the “Prada Marfa” Shop installation on an episode of The Simpsons. The world’s favourite cartoon family passes through the small Texas town to find one of Grandpa Simpson’s World War II companions, Homer stops the car and relieves himself on the artwork. The Danish duo now joins Jasper Johns and Banksy as top artists who have been mentioned on the popular show.
“In 2005 we had a tiny opening for less than 50 people outside Marfa on Highway 90. In 2019 Prada Marfa made into The Simpsons, ha ha.” – Michael Elmgreen
Elmgreen & Dragset are best known for their fourth plinth commission AKA ‘Boy on a Rocking Horse’ which was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in 2012. You can see their current exhibition Elmgreen & Dragset: This is How We Bite Our Tongue at the Whitechapel Gallery until the 13 January.
Prada Marfa is a permanently installed sculpture by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, situated 1.4 miles (2.3 km) northwest of Valentine, Texas, just off U.S. Highway 90 (US 90), and about 26 miles (42 km) northwest of the city of Marfa. The installation was inaugurated on October 1, 2005. The artists called the work a “pop architectural land art project.” The sculpture, realised with the assistance of American architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, cost $80,000 and was intended to never be repaired, so it might slowly degrade back into the natural landscape. This plan was deviated from when, six days after the sculpture was completed, vandals graffitied the exterior, and broke into the building stealing handbags and shoes.
Designed to resemble a Prada store, the building is made of “adobe bricks, plaster, paint, glass pane, aluminum frame, MDF, and carpet.” The installation’s door is nonfunctional. On the front of the structure there are two large windows displaying actual Prada wares, shoes and handbags, picked out and provided by Miuccia Prada herself from the fall/winter 2005 collection; Prada allowed Elmgreen and Dragset to use the Prada trademark for this work. The sculpture was financed by the Art Production Fund (APF) and Ballroom Marfa, a center of contemporary art and culture.
Michael Elmgreen (born 1961 in Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (born 1969 in Trondheim, Norway) are based in Berlin and have worked together as an artist duo since 1995. They have held numerous solo exhibitions in art institutions worldwide, including Museum Haus Lange, Kunstmuseen Krefeld (2017); FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2016); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2016); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2016); PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2015); Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (2014); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2014); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2011); ZKM Museum of Modern Art, Karlsruhe (2010); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (2009); The Power Plant, Toronto (2006); Serpentine Gallery, London (2006); Tate Modern, London (2004); and Kunsthalle Zürich (2001). Their work has been included in the Istanbul (2013, 2011, 2001), Liverpool (2012), Performa 11 (New York, 2011), Singapore (2011), Moscow (2011, 2007), Venice (2009, 2003), Gwangju (2006, 2002), São Paulo (2002), and Berlin (1998) biennials.
In 2005 the artists installed the sculpture Prada Marfa, a replica Prada store, in the Texan desert. In 2009 they received a special mention for their exhibition “The Collectors” in the Nordic and Danish Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale. The artists were shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2000) and won the Preis der Nationalgalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2002). In 2012 they were selected for London’s Fourth Plinth Commission in Trafalgar Square, and in summer 2016 Public Art Fund presented their sculpture “Van Gogh’s Ear” at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Elmgreen & Dragset curated the 15th Istanbul Biennial in 2017.