Go Play Neon Arcade Games by Street Art Duo FAILE at the Brooklyn Museum

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Even the art-averse might manage to enjoy FAILE’s new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. With The FAILE & BÄST Deluxx Fluxx Arcade, the street art duo, made up of Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller, has transformed a room in the lofty fine art institution into a flashy, fully functioning arcade. It’s complete with retro video games, pinball machines, and foosball tables. Dropping a quarter into a token machine gets you a logo-imprinted souvenir. It’s the rare exhibit that will appeal equally to spastic children, gamers, and chin-stroking artistes. Getting cultured has never been so much fun! 

Created in collaboration with fellow Brooklyn artist Bast, the arcade is just one part of FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds, the first U.S. retrospective of the duo’s work. Also on view is the FAILE Temple, a 17-ton sculpture resembling the ruins of an ancient house of worship. It’s mosaicked with block letters spelling “Savage Young Minds” and decorated with Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels. Next to the arcade is a black-lit room plastered with neon pulp collages that juxtapose visual references to 80s and 90s punk and graffiti cultures–band stickers, sci-fi magazine covers, comic books, adult entertainment ads–with religious iconography. And in a featured series of classically-inspired sculptures, a schoolgirl clutches a skateboard. It all blatantly conflates the sacred and the profane (hence the exhibition’s title).

McNeil and Miller have been friends since high school, and the show has elements of a nostalgia fest for 80s and 90s adolescence, elevating lowbrow products of consumer culture and anti-culture to fine art status. In a gallery landscape that’s a little heavy on self-serious, Emperor’s New Clothes-y conceptual art, their work is refreshingly accessible and visually striking. As McNeill says in a Brooklyn Museum video interview, “You can touch it. It’s not precious. It’s a full sensory experience.”

Here, a sneak peek at the exhibit.

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FAILE: Savage/Sacred Young Minds is on view at the Brooklyn Museum until October 4th, 2015. 

Follow Carey Dunne on Twitter @CareyDunne


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