I returned to Marfa for the third time this November and spent a lot of time questioning what it means to return to Marfa. It’s a rather isolated and unique place, which—for most—makes it the kind of place you only visit once. Yet, I find that the more I visit Marfa, the more I want to return. There is such a dense amount of things to see, and to re-explore it truly is helpful. In this way, I always notice something new and interesting that I had never noticed before. It is also fun to see things change a bit, while still maintaining the same overall feeling as my very first trip. One of the biggest changes I noticed this time around was at the Thunderbird Hotel. Since my first stay, the hotel has gone under major renovations and has become a truly accommodating and lovely place to come home to.
I made sure to visit Prada Marfa. It was almost taken down but thankfully still remains. Created by Elmgreen and Dragset in 2005, and described by the artists as a “pop architectural land art project,” it is one of my favorite public art projects. It was great to be able to return with friends.
I visited the Chinati Foundation, which was founded by Donald Judd in 1979 on 340 acres of land in Marfa, Texas. The mission of Chinati is to focus on artworks that are permanently linked with their surrounding landscape. Of this, Judd said, “Most art is fragile and some should be placed and never moved again.” It is amazing to see Judd’s work and his inspiration together in one place. His One hundred works in mill aluminum (1982-6) was created to specifically respond to the buildings. One cannot help but feel in awe of how considered and resolved his sculpture practice was. With all that has been changing in Marfa, it is exciting to see that what remains the same is Judd’s original vision: the permanence of installation works. It is comforting to know that every time you go back, you can rely on the sculptures to be there to welcome you.
Carl Andre’s Chinati Thirteener was also a standout during my visit. It was designed by Andre for the courtyard of Chinati’s temporary gallery and consists of thirteen strips of steel plates, laid out in equal distances apart from one another, on gravel. It is interesting to see the smooth steel juxtaposed with the rough gravel, and to think about what will happen as the steel slowly rusts over time. It was also exciting to learn about an upcoming Robert Irwin project that will be installed in the space in 2015, serving as yet another reason to return to Marfa!