While the pun alone would be reason enough, it is their method of appropriating, deconstructing and recombining familiar images into a collage of mythmaking puzzles and idiosyncratic friends that tethers the artist collective FAILE to the (intended or unintended) breakdown of processes that we are also investigating in our FEHLER magazine.
Faile is a collective founded in 1999 by Patrick McNeil, Patrick Miller and Aiko Nakagawa, who left the group in late 2006. The name Faile is an anagram of their first project, entitled “A life”. As they studied in an art and design school, they learnt the many techniques related to painting and printing. Silk-screen printing and stencils remain the basis of their works, where different worlds collide: retro advertising, pulp, pop art, religious tropes and a sublime mix of typographies. Their works read like the big cities, bombarded with signage, beautiful and radical, text and imagery, lights and noise.
While the Brooklyn-based duo first garnered attention for their street art, they have made a name for themselves with their mixed-media works and immersive installations. From stencils and posters in the streets to complex and elaborate installations of arcades (complete with redesigned games), large prayer wheels, ingenious wooden puzzle boxes, site specific sculptures and even massive temples, all in their cacophony style of remixed iconic images and typographies, their work and the skills of this pair are widely recognized as unmatched on the international scene of urban art.
From the Interview “Brooklyn-based Faile bridges gap between fine art and street at Dallas Contemporary” for Culture Map Dallas by Kendall Morgan:
Culture Map: You were originally called "A Life". How did the name change?
Patrick McNeil: I moved down to the Lower East Side in ’99, and we’d already printed our first run of what was going to be "A Life". I moved in with a new roommate who said, “There’s a shoe store called 'Alife' you might want to look at.” When I walked in, it was the first retail shop/art gallery that was all geared to street art. I talked to the manager at the time, and he had seen our stuff and thought it was Shepard [Fairey] playing a joke. He said, “I don’t want to tell you what to do, but we have more PR and recognition than you do, so before you go bonkers, you may want to rethink your name.”
We went home and started playing with anagrams, and Faile came out of it. There’s something to “Faile to Succeed,” look past your failures and you’ll find your life. We thought it was powerful and resonated and ended up cutting "A Life" out of all the posters.