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Prada Marfa Vandalized in apparent Social/Political Statement


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We'll be following this story as it continues to develop - follow this link and look to the bottom of the page for the latest updates we have.

Update 3/13, 12:40 PM: Jeff Davis County Deputy Sheriff Drew Walker says authorities have identified a suspect, but they aren't yet releasing the name.

Update 3/12, 1:30 PM: The Jeff Davis County Sheriff's Office says an investigation into the vandalism is currently underway, and that they do have "a few leads" they're following up on, but they're not releasing any further details at this time.

As previously reported, there hasn't been any confirmation of who was responsible for the damage or how many people were involved, but for the past couple of days signs have pointed to an artist who goes only by the name of "9271997."

The artist's website was updated today with an image of the damaged Prada Marfa installation, along with a full version of the manifesto that was left at the scene (see our slideshow above for pictures.)

Update 2:30 PM: 

The Big Bend Sentinel was contacted earlier today via text by the person who may have been responsible for vandalizing the Prada Marfa installation, and may have still been in the area on Monday.

The paper previously reported that a signature scrawled in the blue paint at the site of the damaged artwork seemed to point to an artist known only as "9271997." (Read below for more on that.)

Now, the Sentinel says that person has contacted one of their reporters with a series of texts, with one apparently seeming to reference the damage done to Prada Marfa.

"Nothing wrong with all of it," the person told reporter John Daniel Garcia, "Can’t wait for a proposal or call for art by the 'art world.'"

Update 1:20 PM:

Ballroom Marfa has released a statement in response to this weekend's vandalizing of Prada Marfa.

The organization denounced the act, saying while the installation does elicit a wide variety of reactions, the damage done in this instance "overwhelms this forum and shuts down the dialogue."

Ballroom says it will be restoring the project and keeping the site public, but no other specific decisions have been made yet over how to deal with the vandalism.

Ballroom also mentioned in the statement they are "close to resolving the widely-publicized issue with the Texas Department of Transportation."

Click here to read the statement in full.

Updated 3/11

Prada Marfa, the art installation in Valentine, Texas, was vandalized with blue spray paint on either side of the building sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning. The Jeff Davis Sheriff's office was notified around 6:00 AM on Sunday and have yet to find a suspect.

Along with the blue spray paint, the building was also covered with flyers from the Tom's Shoe Company's "One for One" campaign.

Also adorning the installation were quotes from French Artist Henry Matisse and Jack Kerouac. The graffiti was tagged with a signaturing reading "4 LIFE J.2014." The Big Bend Sentinel traced that signature to an artist who goes only by the name "9271997."

A manifesto was also tacked to one of the walls outlining the motivation for the vandalism. In it, the author harshly criticizes the installation as “society’s apocalyptic theater,” and goes on to dismiss the work as ironic and a product of an outdated Bourgeoisie.

The Big Bend Sentinel traced a signature left on the graffiti that read “J.2014” to an artist who goes only by the name “9271997.”

It's still unclear how many people were involved, but Valentine resident and Prada Marfa Site Representative Boyd Elder says given the extent of the damage, it's likely the perpetrators did not act alone.

“There's a considerable amount of damage done to the site itself,” Elder says, “it was obviously very-well organized.”

The future of Prada Marfa has been uncertain for some time now.

The Texas Department of Transportation last fall decided to designate the installation an “illegal outdoor advertising sign,” partly because TXDOT made the same ruling over the short-lived Play Marfa installation along the same highway.

TXDOT ordered that work to be moved, but it's yet to say whether it will make the same decision for Prada Marfa. However, Wendy Knox, the supervisor of TXDOT's Outdoor Advertising Regulatory Program, told the New York Times back in September that the agency “will take action on it.”

The message in the manifesto at times takes on social and political tones, at one point suggesting to its audience that "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" and the first page ends with "Welcome to your Apocalypse?" 

The words also criticize the installation directly:

"The irony of Prada Marfa, it's fake. Prada Marfa has no representation of Texas and Southwest North America. Prada Marfa is a relic of a Bourgeois not so distant past; serving today's hyper reality of a blank canvas." 

Lisa Morton, a reporter for the Van Horn Advocate, found a separate pamphlet version of the manifesto (pictured above) and also took a video of the scene.

Rita Weigart, a native of Valentine, noticed the vandalism around 8:15 AM on Sunday when she was on her way to El Paso. It rained around 4:00 AM that morning and Weigart noticed puddles of blue paint on the scene. She speculates the incident took place before the rain but after Saturday night.

She took pictures and posting them to Facebook, "where they became viral" said Weigart. At 1:00 PM, Weigart began to clean up the mess and said that tourists from across the country stopped by to help.

On Monday, (March 10) Marfa Public Radio's James Kim spoke with Boyd Elder about the vandalism. Click below to hear that full conversation.

NEWS_140310_Prada Marfa Boyd