Michael Elmgreen hits out at the ‘cowardly vanity’ of the guerilla artist who vandalised the famous installation
As we reported earlier today, the famous Prada Marfa installation by Scandi artists Elmgreen and Dragset has just been defaced by a vandal-slash-artist known as 9271997, who has plastered the shopfront with TOMS stickers. (He also left behind a sort-of manifesto on social inequality.) The pair intended the sculpture to fall apart gradually over time and become part of the landscape – suffice to say, they didn't really count on human intervention helping it along this far.
Michael Elmgreen, one half of the team behind Prada Marfa, is not happy with the vandalism of the sculpture. He sees it as thoughtless PR stunt for 9271997's own work, and calls the do-gooder manifesto "total bullshit".
He tells Dazed:
"It's quite scary that people feel such an urge to profile themselves in these times, to the extent that they'll smash up other artists' work. I'm annoyed because I think that it's a person doing it who is trying to put his own mark on our own. I think it's insulting that it's so bad too. I could cope with it and be more relaxed if the guy was better. His statements about social inequality are total bullshit - yeah, you go to the middle of the desert to smash up a sculpture to make that statement? If you think that painting over our sculpture in a toxic paint is a protest against social inequality, then you have no sense of reality. This is all to do with the vanity of whoever did this."
"Prada Marfa had become a place for people to meet and to tell their stories. We never expected that when we were placing an artwork in the middle of nowhere – that it would become this. Gangs of teenagers were photographing themselves there, newly married couples, families. It's great, we thought that was so exciting and fun. It's cool that people use it in that way and therefore I get pissed off that someone has totally disrespected that legacy. There have been some fantastic messages left there – secret love notes, date requests. It's become a secret shrine for lovers. Fuck the vandals coming to smash it up."
"If people could just leave it alone then we would let it degrade and weather naturally. Because we put it out in the middle of nowher, it encourages a more cowardly kind of person who don't dare to carry out their 'activism' in a place where they could be more easily caught. When I was young, political activism was something that carried a risk, something dangerous. I thought that you would fight authorities if you had a statement to make. Attacking Prada Marfa is an easy target."
So, it's pretty clear what Michael Elmgreen thinks. But what do you think – vandalism or art?