In the Texas desert near the little town of Marfa, on a stretch of Highway known as the loneliest road in America, sits the Prada store that got left behind. No attendants bustle behind its chic white counters, though it’s fully stocked with veblen bags and shoes. The automatic doors don`t open and no one will validate your parking, but the lights do come on at night, making its glowing glass frontage the only illumination for miles around.
Photo by Jonathon Percy.
The Prada Marfa is a permanent art installation, built by a Berlin-based artistic couple called Elmgreen and Dragset, with the approval and oversight of Miuccia Prada herself- who provided their logo and the goods on display within. Shortly after it was constructed it was smashed and looted, as you might expect, but the artists only returned with more goods, smash-proof glass, and some serious alarm systems, rebuilding it as a little commercial fortress in the desert.
It is made of a biodegradable adobe-like substance, designed to slowly dissolve back into the land over time. It cost $80,000 to build, and all the goods on display within are authentic, if imperfect- the shoes are all right-footed and the bags have no bottoms.
Now it provides surreal amusement to anyone driving through that stretch of blasted land.
Photo by Noel Kerns.
It got left behind by the Prada herd as they were driven over the Texas deserts 5 years ago, the runt of the litter that couldn’t keep up with the others. Ever since then it has remained by the roadside, waiting for its fuel source to die out, watching as its expensive goods slowly slide out of fashion. At night it dreams of crowds of uptown yuppies fawning over its leatherwork, and briefly knows contentment.
Photo by i5prof.
Salvador Dali-esque use of the reflecting windows. Photo by LaMadrilena.
Photo from Wikimedia.
When I was a kid I had a picture book called `The Lonely Skyscraper`. It was a haunting and beautiful story of a skyscraper who felt empty in the city, because nobody truly lived inside him. Sure, he was full of bustle and noise during the day, but at night he was left dark and alone, but for a few security guards patrolling his floors.
So he uprooted himself and ran away to the countryside, where gradually animals came to live in him, with dormice and birds making nests of his paper supplies, bears hibernating in his basements, and deer grazing the grass that shot up through his forecourt. With so much life inside him, he finally knew peace and happiness.
It`s a beautiful book, though long out of print. You can buy it second hand through Amazon here.
See a curation of world ruins in the ruins gallery.
See my collection of Japanese ruins (haikyo) in the galleries:[album id=4 template=compact]