FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds

Blurring Boundaries Between Fine Art, Street Art, and Pop Culture

“We reached a time where there is such an overwhelming amount of information available and a desire arises to try and make meaning of this constant stream of content,” artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller told us. Their upcoming exhibition FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds at the Brooklyn Museum aims to question our relationship to consumer culture, religious traditions, and the urban environment.

Both Patricks have known each other since the first day of high school, united by their shared passion for art, which has lasted until the present day. When in college, they started to document the street culture they encountered, and in 1999 they decided to collaborate on a single effort beginning with wheat-pasted prints and stencils directly on the street.

The exhibition seems to be an unabashed celebration of 90s culture from graffiti to video games, at times treading a line between hip hop culture and punk rock. The popular references are myriad and the two Patricks seamlessly fuse the cut and mix aesthetic of hip hop with Pop art sensibilities, appropriating imagery from Native American art, religious architecture, pulp magazines, comic books, sci-fi movie posters, adult entertainment advertisements, and storefront typography, amongst others.

The exhibition will be as lurid and vulgar as the worst excesses of a saturated consumer society, characterised by headache-inducing fluorescent colours and complete with playable arcade and pinball machines, the result of a collaboration with Brooklyn-based artist Bäst.

We caught up with the boys to learn more about this nostalgia-soaked exhibition.

The Plus: Why did you choose the exhibition title: FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds?
Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller :
It comes from the passions and contradictions of youth. This is the time in one’s life where one shifts through the cultural landscape searching for authenticity and meaning, and also rebels against those systems of meaning, tearing them down and making anew.

TP: How would you describe the sphere of the exhibition?
PM & PM:
I think the exhibition highlights our weaving of imagery and narrative to explore the idea of sacred spaces and objects through a variety of cultural influences. A sort of modern day myth making that creates a new set of icons culled from the detritus of our urban jungle. Something like that…

TP: Will there be more
collaborations between Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller in the future?
PM & PM:

We sure hope so. We’ve been working together on FAILE for 16 years now. We still have a lot of ideas that we’d like to explore. We’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunities we’ve had and hope people continue to enjoy the work we create.

FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds is on view July 10 till October 4 in the Brooklyn Museum, New York.