In his 1977 text on architecture and signage, Learning From Las Vegas, Robert Venturi argued against the vilification of commercial architecture and symbolism and made the then underrepresented case for modern architecture. Venturi lauded the Vegas Strip for matching the rapidly moving (literally, in increasingly faster cars) American population with bold, communicative designs capable of keeping up. Basically, you can see big signs from fast cars: orienting you in space, anchoring you to the America of today. The Texas Department of Transportation would probably take issue with a section of Venturi's book entitled "Billboards Are Almost All Right." Marfa, Texas is home to the iconic Prada Marfa, a non-functional Prada storefront created by European artists Elmgreen and Dragset back in 2005. Last year the council ruled that, "the 'store' counts as an 'illegal outdoor advertising sign,' and is in violation of a technicality in the archaic 1965 High Beautification Act. Venturi, known as "The Father of Postmodernism," would have thrown a shit fit. Lucky for Venturi's legacy and Instagrammers everywhere, the billboard-slash-shop is now also slash-a museum, courtesy of the nonprofit Ballroom Arts Foundation, and will live to see another day. Start planning your road trips now.
September 16, 2014