Cake$ Stencils marks Keffiyeh Day in Bethlehem

The 11th of May was Keffiyeh Day. An item of clothing traditionally worn by farmers in order to stay cool. It’s something which has, over the years, taken on a deeper meaning. Over time it has become a symbol in itself. A symbol of Palestinian nationalism. The Keffiyeh is something which Cake$ Stencils has been trying to draw attention to.

Cake$ is well known in the West Bank. In particular he’s known for his single layer black and white stencils. These can be found on the separation barrier itself. The wall that partitions Israel and the West Bank. His work is only visible on the Palestinian side. The area around Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel has a particularly high concentration. His images generally depict children. Often they are playing but playing in amongst the detritus of war.

Cake$ Stencil artwork in Bethlehem marking keffiyeh day. Jesus is covering his face with the keffiyeh.

Cake$ Stencils Keffiyeh Street Art

Yasser Arafat the former Palestinian leader is perhaps the most well known example of someone who wore a keffiyeh. A black and white chequered scarf, it was an item of clothing that really became synonymous with the man himself. According to Cake$ Stencils, keffiyeh day this year has a double significance. Not only does it remains an iconic symbol of Palestine. It also “reminds us that it’s good to cover our face when in public”. This being particularly true in a time of pandemic.

Cake$ latest works were created in march before the pandemic hit. Wanting initially just to reference the symbol in his work, it’s now taken on a different meaning. The lockdown in this part of the world has had a devastating effect. Bethlehem relies heavily on tourism and all that has stopped. Even the Walled Off Hotel has closed it’s doors. Face coverings too are hard to come by. Locals perhaps needing to adapt more traditional items to guard against the spread.

Cake$ Stencils keffiyeh image in Bethlehem

We’ve featured the work of Cake$ Stencils before and you can read that here. He is a passionate campaigner against the separation barrier. Believing it to be a symbol of oppression and a violation of people’s rights. It’s part of the reason he paints so much on there. Adding his art to the vast array of other artworks from artists from all over the world. The barrier wall has become one of the world’s biggest, though possibly also most dangerous, open air halls of fame.

Visiting in early 2019 we saw this for ourselves. At that time it seemed a juxtaposition. Attracted by the comfortable and art packed Banksy hotel it nonetheless sits at the center of a huge conflict. The art on the barrier includes some Banksy originals and is spectacular. However the fact remains that artists take risks every time they paint there. For the most time they are ignored by the guards but that might not always be the case. For Cake$ he returns time and time again. Undettered he keeps spreading his message through his art.

Cake$ Stencils Bethlehem Gallery

A number of Cake$ Stencils artworks appeared just before the lockdown imposed in Bethlehem. This gallery shows a selection of some of his recent work in the area. All recent travel to the area has been restricted as a means to control the spread of the virus.

Homage to the Nirvana Nevermind album cover. The baby instead of swimming is floating over barbed wire
Context against the wall of the separation barrier
A child in a gasmask plays hoop with barbed wire
The stencil against a heavily graffitied section of the wall
A child with a gasmask prepares to fire flowers
This context shot shows that the watch tower is the recipient of the bouquet of flowers about to be fired
Sprinkling love dust
Love dust is sprinkled near the watch tower

For more Bethlehem related articles have a look at:

  • Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel
  • An Interview with Wisam Salsaa, Manager of the Walled Off Hotel
  • The Graffiti of the West Bank Barrier
  • An Interview with Cake$ Stencils

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