Exhibit Review: 'FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds'

Last month, the Brooklyn Museum unveiled the latest exhibit by FAILE, a Brooklyn-based collaboration between artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller.

The duo founded FAILE in 1999, and has since become known for their wide range in style and knack for bringing a myriad of materials and techniques to their pieces.

Their unique approach is evident in their latest exhibit Savage/Sacred Young Minds. The large-scale paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations are spliced with a variety of culture-driven iconography and imagery from graffiti, to comic book art, and even religious symbols.


FAILE’s collage-style art is an eyeful of stimulation–an effect amplified by the mixture of different genres. I spent several minutes scanning each piece’s different components carefully while contemplating the possible underlying thoughts on consumer culture and religious traditions today’s Brooklynites have become famous for.

The sculptures on display, though less busy to the eye, pack an equally impressive punch. My favorite, a howling suited man clad with wolf hat and tie clenched in his fist, brings together two completely different cultures: tribal and modern. I couldn’t help but interpret the intertwining as a societal comment on how different man has become from humbler, more nature-driven cultures such as that of indigenous tribes.

Native American art can also be seen in the Temple, a life-size structure made of iron, ceramic reliefs, and painted ceramics that are “reminiscent of a ruined religious temple.” Here McNeil and Miller once again spliced a whimsical array of imagery, incorporating traditional ethnic art as well as pop culture figures.

The exhibition also includes The FAILE & BAST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade, an interactive space with video games, pinball machines, and foosball tables. Similarly to their other pieces, the duo once again aims to overwhelm viewers. The space is tucked away into the corner of the exhibition, and does not look particularly eye catching from afar. However, once fully in the nook, visitors are submerged in a sea of neon color.


Every inch of the room is covered with neon, glow-in-the-dark posters, and some of them give off a psychedelic three-dimensional effect. Further in, an adjacent room hosts pinball machines and more comic-book style art–this time in black and white.

Given the extent and variety of the installation, and the probability that I would notice new details within the art after a second viewing, I most certainly will be visiting Savage/Sacred Young Minds once more before the end of its run.

All photos by Veronica Chavez.

‘FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds’ will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum until Oct 4, 2015.

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