Text by Bethany Rex
Broken Fingaz are a pioneering, multidisciplinary street art collection from Haifa, Israel. Heralded as the first crew to emerge from their homeland, their widely acclaimed and dynamic work includes graffiti, graphic design, installation and music. Since their beginnings 11 years ago, Broken Fingaz have steadily built a worldwide following, exhibiting on walls and in gallery shows around the work. In 2010 they took their work to Art Beijing, China, and in 2011, their success was elucidated by simultaneous exhibitions opening at Israel’s two most prestigious art institutions, the Tel Aviv Museum and the Haifa Museum of Art.
Presenting a new large-scale, mixed media installation, the exhibition is the crew’s first major show inside Europe, Broken Fingaz Crew’s latest exhibition Crazy Eye Hotel opens today at Shop 13 at The Old Truman Brewery in London. Aesthetica caught up with the crew ahead of the opening.
BR: For those of us who don’t know, who are the BFC? How did the collective come together?
BFC: We are Kip, Unga, Tant and Deso. We formed in 2011 in Haifa. Kip and I (Unga) grew up together – our parents lived together and worked together in a commune in the mountains. Kip and I started painting in High School, and Tant joined in 2005. Deso is the only one not from Haifa originally, he came from Russia to Israel 12 years ago. We met through doing graffiti – it’s such a small city that everyone just gets to know each other that way.
BR: Could you talk us through the name of the collective?
BFC: There’s no meaning to our name. It’s just something we thought was cool in High School and it has stuck ever since.
BR: This is your first European exhibition. What should visitors who have never seen your work before expect?
BFC: This is actually our first solo exhibition on this scale, ever, anywhere. So, we pretty much brought together everything we have made in the last year; from sculptures, installations, painting and inks to some new work we have created specifically for the site. Hopefully people that didn’t know us before will be able to come together and get our vibe from just seeing all of our stuff together.
BR: The press material features a quote from Professor Catherine Hezser from SOAS which refers to the BFC as being “at the forefront of contemporary street art in Israel.” Is there a big contemporary street art scene in Israel and, if so, what do you think has motivated this?
BFC: You cannot really say that it’s big, but there are certainly some talented people and it’s slowly growing. Since the scene is so fresh, there is a lack of foundation or history in graffiti and street art in Israel, but there are benefits to that; it’s very independent and not controlled by money yet. That being said, most of the people doing it are doing it for the love, not for commercial reasons.
BR: Your work explores the hinterlands between street art and graffiti. Where are the main differences between these disciplines in your eyes?
BFC: We never separate the two…we love letters and characters, your could say our aesthetic is more street art. Our approach is more graffiti, in the way that we still like tagging and finding unusual spots like rooftops. We still love to get out on the street.
BR: Who or what are your main influences?
BFC: We really like illustrators from the past like Toulouse-Lautrec up to more contemporary artists such as Jim Philips and all the 1970s and 80s skateboard illustrators, the list goes on!
BR: What should we expect to see from BFC in 2012? Even more new work?
BFC: Definitely. It’s our first time in 2 years that we don’t have an immediate plan. We’ve just finished up shows in China, Cambodia, Israel and now, London. We want to stay in Europe for a while and see what opportunities it will bring.
Broken Fingaz Crew: Crazy Eye Hotel, 20/04/2012 – 29/04/2012, Shop 13, The Old Truman Brewery, London.www.no-way.org.uk/events/broken-fingaz
Courtesy the artists