"The urge to do something illegal" Broken Fingaz Crew Interview
Artist Feature

„The urge to do something illegal“ Broken Fingaz Crew Interview

We met Unga, member of Broken Fingaz Crew, one of Israeli’s only existing graffiti collectives. Originally from Haifa, the four-man clan, formed in 2001, created the first generation of graffiti artists in the city. Inspired by nudity and comic book gore, the crew had „this urge to do something illegal“. Now aged 30, Unga goes back to his young years and the bridge he creates between the streets and galleries all over the world.

You guys formed in 2001 in Haifa. Can you recall the first surface you tagged?

Well, before we even knew what tagging was, we tried to create pieces. And obviously it looked really bad. We started by painting mainly under bridges on the main highway. We really took our time, like 1 hour-painting in a really busy road. It’s surprising we made our own way with it.

What was like to be a street artist in 2005 in Israel? Has situation as changed today?

Until 2006 it was nice. There wasn’t any history or any one to learn from. But, at least, stuff would stay up. In 2006, after the second Lebanon war, the city decided to kill Graffiti. And ever since, they buff daily so nothing stays too long.

Can you talk about what was like growing up in Israel?

We grew up in sort of a hippy community on the Carmel mountain, in northern Israel. My family, Tant’s family and a few other families. It was an amazing place to grow up. Nature all around, outside civilization. When I was 13, we were forced to move out, which was pretty traumatic at first. But eventually, Idiscovered the good sides of moving to the city, like graffiti and skateboarding.


Photo: Courtesy of Broken Fingaz Crew

As a teenager, what did it feel to go out at night, paint a scalped, bearded man and go back home, go back to school the next morning and keep this secret for yourself?

It felt good. As a teenager, you have this urge to do something illegal. It satisfied my need for adrenalin and for disobeying the law. And at the same time, I felt creative, so it just made perfect sense.

Graffiti requires having a solid partner. Broken Fingaz is a four­-man clan (Unga, Kip, Tant and Deso). Can you speak of the importance of the various partners you’ve painted with?

I was really lucky that the people I want to hang and travel with are also the people I respect as artists. We all share love of the same medium because we grew up together artistically, we developed a similar aesthetic that allows us to create together easily.

The medium for your art—street graffiti—is technically illegal. How do you work around that today?

Today we still often paint illegally but we also do bigger projects like murals or exhibitions. We’ve never had the feeling of having to choose so far, between one or the other. We still can do both today.


Photo: Courtesy of Broken Fingaz Crew

Do you remember any unexpected difficult situations you faced while making graffiti?

There where many. Sometimes crazy neighbours and some other times people called the police. Over the years, we got arrested in 5 or 6 different countries.

How do you respond to criticism?

If they say something smart, we try to learn from it. But most of the time, people say stuff just for the sake of saying something.


Photo: Courtesy of Broken Fingaz Crew

Some of your graffiti are often described as blasphemous or too explicit. What are the reactions that you normally get to your art?

People in the street almost always seem happy that we’re painting in their neighborhood. Usually, most of the neighborhood looks shitty at first, so most of the people who live there appreciate that someone takes the time to make it more colorful.

Sex Picnic became famous. It shows girls having sex with skeletons, women reptile heads with legs apart. You use bold lines and acid colors. Not the kind of art pieces to offer to granny for Xmas. How do you come up with these crazy gore-psych ideas?

My granny is an 89 year old Iraqi lady and she came to see the show in Haifa and loved it.


Photo: Courtesy of Broken Fingaz Crew

I heard you were almost impossible to join and keep track of. Still no mobile phones today?

No. If you want to see me, knock at my door. We do all have Instagram now though, we update it from our friends‘ phones.

What do you think of our very­ connected generation stuck on Instagram and Facebook, taking selfies with selfie sticks? Do you have a message for them?

Oh man, I don’t get how people don’t understand how stupid they look. The more someones‘ life looks amazing on his social medias, the more it’s really boring and means he’s on his phone most of the day.

In 2012, you were invited by curator Charlotte Jansen to present your first show outside Israel, in London. Do you remember the feeling you got there?

It was really exciting for us. It was our first time in London. Deso didn’t make it cause of his gypsy passport but 12 other friends came and slept with us in a 1 bedroom-flat in Bethnal Green. We worked liked crazy because, at that time, we really felt that we wanted to get out of Israel. This was a chance for us to show the world outside what we did. So we didn’t want to miss the chance.

Has age played any role in your career?

I turned 30 this year so, obviously, I look at life differently than when I started 15 years ago. But I have to say that my passion just became bigger.

Do you have any regrets?

I would do some stuff differently if I could, but I guess you learn more in the bad times than in the happy ones so maybe it was worth it.

In summer 2015, you launched „Journey Galactiko“, a solo exhibition in LA. You presented a 150 cubic metres-temple installed in the middle of the gallery space, a structure built with wood and found materials. The exhibition was the final product of several months of traveling and working in India. How do you create a bridge between the streets, the outside world and galleries?

We don’t try to bring the street inside. I think most of the „street art“ which tries to recreate the street inside a gallery sucks. Painting outside teaches you how to communicate with you surrounding. So when doing something in a gallery, you need to create something for that environment.


Photo: Courtesy of Broken Fingaz Crew

Do you work differently for galleries than when in the street?

Yes, but the energy comes from the same place. The years working outside shaped our style in a certain way and maybe you can still feel it in the works that we do inside.

Interview by Elisa RoutaElisa Routa has been working as a freelance journalist and editor for different publications for 8 years; including surfing, travel, art, music and ocean-related magazines.

Broken Fingaz Crew Website
Broken Fingaz Crew on Facebook

Broken Fingaz Artworks will be part of the group show CYAN / ANTHRACITE in March 2016 in Hamburg



04.03.16 – 13.03.16
Affenfaust Gallery Hamburg

More Information about the exhibition.

Das könnte dir auch gefallen