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Broken Fingaz - A New Israeli Tapestry

Words:

Edd Norval
September 13, 2020

Broken Fingaz are an Israeli collective of street artists working at the forefront of their country’s unique, varied and sometimes difficult place on the global stage. Often the subject of negative political reports as a whole, Israel is full of many bustling cities that are the home of an interwoven narrative of old and new, the historical and the future. Broken Fingaz have become their unofficial documentarians. 

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Hailing from Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city and situated on a  protruding horseshoe of land reaching out into the sea on the west coast, Broken Fingaz four constituent artists - Deso, Kip, Tant and Unga - are slightly removed from the focus Tel Aviv artists receive, allowing them room to breathe and the space to develop on their own terms. 


The group are highly interdisciplinary, relying on a multitude of mediums and techniques that best serve their artistic message. Posters, printing, animation, illustration and graphic design all factor into the way they tell their story. Often their works seem like a patchwork of clearly collaborative efforts with components of various backgrounds, working together for a common goal.


Communicating most widely in their native Hebrew - a language that is one of the most visually striking in the world - the sense of pride in their own culture is present throughout their works that interweave global and local narratives, telling big stories with regional figures.

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Bright colours imbue the works with a psychedelic feel, a facade that could easily overthrow those who don’t take the time to decipher their often complex imagery that ranges in topic from sexuality to spirituality and magic. Importantly to the crew, it’s always told with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, a black comedy that makes a serious point.


Drawing on motifs from such a plethora of backdrops have given the crew a strong identity of their own. The fairly simple visual style is complemented by the more complex fusion of themes. Esotericism and popular culture coalesce on what can often look like postcards or banners for Old West touring carnivals. 


Understanding the urban topography, connecting desolate dots from national folkloric and mythological pasts, Broken Fingaz are bastions of a type of muralism once held onto by the Mexican Muralists of the early to mid 20th century. Although the Israeli collective’s murals are never overtly political, the social messages beam outwards, reconnecting us - and them - with a past that is capable of inspiring a brighter future, especially in places where that that can sometimes be difficult to see.

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