Following in the footsteps of Prada Marfa – the roadside Prada “store” in Marfa, Texas constructed in 2005 and designed to resemble a Prada store, right down to the Fall/Winter 2005 collection shoes and handbags inside, which were selected and provided by Miuccia Prada – is the tiny Target “store” that has popped up along U.S. 90 in rural West Texas. Housed in a small cinderblock railroad building and featuring the unmistakable Target bullseye, the mini Target outpost – like Prada Marfa – is not operational.
Entitled, “Target Marathon,” after the town in which it is located, the new landmark – for which no one has yet to claim responsibility – is located some 60 miles away from Marfa. According to Target, the company is not connected to the recent pop up. A spokesman for the company told TFL, “Target does not have a store in Marathon, TX and has no affiliation with this.” (Note: The closest Target location is more than two hours northeast in Odessa).
The comparison to Prada Marfa proves an interesting one given the legal fight that its creators – Berlin-based artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset – and Ballroom Marfa, the Texas-based non-profit art organization that oversees Prada Marfa, waged against the Texas Department of Transportation after the faux store/permanent installation was classified by the Texas Department of Transportation as an “illegal outdoor advertising sign" in September 2013.
Turns out, the Prada logo on the "store" was held to be in violation of the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which prohibits advertising on unlicensed land bordering federal highway U.S. 90 and requires advertisers to have a permit. (The artists never obtained a permit because they "reject the idea that their installation is an advertisement," claiming: “There’s a difference between being commissioned by a company to do something for them and using their logo, and using their logo on your own.").
After nearly a year of deliberations between Ballroom Marfa and the Texas Department of Transportation, Ballroom Marfa obtained a lease for the privately-owned roadside land, allowing the site to be classified as a museum and thus, fall into a loophole in Texas state law. Veronica Beyer, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation confirmed the news in September 2014, saying: “The site is now an art museum site and the building is their single art exhibit." Moreover, Beyer stated that any signage on the site may now be considered “on-premise” and does not require a permit under state law.
Prada Marfa was dealt a much more favorable hand than Playboy Enterprises, which erected its own installation on the same highway in 2013, just a mile northwest of Marfa. The Playboy installation consisted of a 1972 Dodge Charger on top of a box in front of a forty-foot neon Playboy bunny sign, and was designed by the artist Richard Phillips for Playboy (and was paid for by Playboy). The Texas Department of Transportation subsequently ordered Playboy to remove its sign, giving the Beverly Hill-based global media and lifestyle company a month to disassemble it.
It is currently unclear as to whether the mini Target will be subject to a similar legal battle. As of now, it seems to be out of danger.