Elmgreen and Dragset Weigh in on Marfa Madness, Alleged Vandal Responds

Scenes of the Prada Marfa vandalism (screenshots via You Tube)
Scenes of the Prada Marfa vandalism (screenshots via YouTube)

Elmgreen and Dragset, the duo behind the recently defaced conceptual storefront “Prada Marfa,” have condemned the vandalism in a statement to the Art Newspaper published earlier today. “It is crazy that we have come to a point in our culture where some individuals in their insane egomania, eager to obtain a bit of attention, start attacking other artists’ works,” the artists told the paper. They continued:

We saw it recently when a work by Ai Weiwei was smashed in Florida and now with the attack on Prada Marfa. Unlike movements such as Occupy Wall Street, these acts of vandalism have nothing to do with political activism — they are only symptoms of some disturbed minds’ personal vanity. To believe that you can fight something like social inequality by overpainting a sculptural work in the Texan dessert with toxic blue paint is pretty off the target.

Hyperallergic reached out to the alleged vandal, who identified themselves as 927197 to The Big Bend Sentinel, and we received the following response to our request for an interview:

Perhaps down the road,,, but please check out the project mission statement and response to elmgreen, for a better understanding … before we move forward.

Say what you will about the non-linear explanation that “9271977” offers on their site — most vandalisms are silly, and under-thought, but those acts are responsive, in a very basic way, to an art world that elevates the same traits in droves. The dramatic revision itself that the object status of high art underwent in the twentieth century was marked as much by developments in thought as by outright vandalism and other creative destructions. As Ben Lerner has argued in “Damage Control,” an essay dealing with the perils of condemning art vandals that appeared in the December issue of Harper’s, the logical frameworks used to shut down ‘outsider’ vandals are often inconsistent with assessments of more institutionalized works. In the piece (paywalled), Lerner argues this ambiguity as follows:

Charges of incoherence and irrelevance are often leveled at artists without that making them vandals. It is quite easy to argue that [so-called vandals] are bad artists — derivative, sloppy, stupid. And it is easy to argue that they are merely destructive — but then performative destruction has a long and sanctioned history in the avant-garde.

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