Somewhere It Hides a Well
A Tour Diary from our Friends Chromeo, featuring Marfa Texas
Though maybe not as obvious as Bootsy Collins or Hall & Oates, American Minimalism is actually a major aesthetic influence on our work--just check the last iterations of our stage design for nods to Donald Judd (mirrored cubes), Dan Flavin (fluorescent strips) and John McCracken (triangular monoliths). We were thrilled when the Chinati Foundation asked us to DJ the annual Chinati Weekend party. We'd been all over Texas, from Austin, Dallas and Houston to El Paso, Corpus Christi and McAllen, but we finally got the opportunity to bring the funk to Marfa.
Alright disclaimer. Getting to this place is a trek. From New York, it's basically 12 hours door to door. You got to fly to Dallas or Houston, then fly again to Midland or El Paso and then drive 3 hours. But what a drive it is! If Wim Wenders needs to shoot a sequel to Paris, Texas he should consider the town of Monahans (pop. approx. 7000): a desolate strip on which every nook beckons a photo shoot.
After spending time on the Chinati Foundation grounds, you get the feeling that all art should be site-specific. Is that the Marfa Kool-Aid we're drinking out of Pee's Arizona can? The Judd concrete cubes amid the lunar landscape felt both serene and surreal.
The Chinati compound also houses a series of Dan Flavin installations. Apparently, no photos are allowed except during Chinati weekend, during which you get carte blanche--or rather carte orange, green, purple and pink.
The Chinati Foundation's site is a cluster of old army barracks that actually housed German P.O.W.s during WWII. We had no idea of this until we saw german painted signs on the walls.
For our DJ set, we wanted ad hoc visuals inspired by both the Marfa art and landscape. We worked with the Argentine visual artist Kidmograph on a series of Lynchian road-scapes and revolving reflexive cubes. Kids from all the neighboring towns drove down for the gig, it was genuinely moving. Such great energy.
At 7am on Sunday, we were back in the Chinati barracks to watch the sunrise over Judd's aluminum sculptures.
There's not a zillion food options in a town of 2000 inhabitants so we found ourselves loitering around Boyz II Men, a hysterical food truck from hell where you get verbally abused by some kid with a GoPro in exchange for excellent breakfast burritos. Their Yelp reviews are amazing.
We thought we'd get looked at a little funny in the middle of the Texas desert but as it happened, Pee fit right in with his Afrika Bambaataa-meets-Santa Fe flair and made friends at an alarming rate: from the thrift store owners to some Serbian fossil dealer to glamorous Houston art wives at the Foundation dinner.
In the town of Marfa itself, the Judd Foundation houses a stunning collection of John Chamberlain sculptures.
Of course we had to drive over to the infamous Prada store, which is actually not in Marfa per se but in neighboring town Valentine, population 126. That's about one Prada purse for every 8 inhabitants by the way. Not unlike the Upper East Side!
Take the Prada installation out and the drive is still worth it: road runners, sprawling ranches and endless railroads.