Dede and Nitzan Mintz make work on the walls of Saint-Louis Hospital, opposite the Petit Cambodge resturant and Le Carillon bar, the site of one of the 13 November attacks that happened last year
Translations of Mintz’ work:
יום הולדת לפצע
נעשה לו מסיבה
בלונים נקשור לפצע
נאחל לו שיגדל
קרבנות נקריב לפצע
A birthday for the wound
We will hold a celebration
Tie balloons for the wound
Wish for him to grow
Sacrifices will be brought forth
May he rise and become holy
Street poet Nitzan Mintz and street artist, Dede, both from Tel-Aviv, have painted work in front of the Petit Cambodge restaurant and Le Carillon bar, two sites synonymous with the 13 November terror attacks which took place last year. Both artists explain the intervention here, with a healthy dose of humour at the start, becoming more solemn later into the interview.
What brought you to Paris?
Nitzan: One of the aims has been to sniff around to try to find an art residency, here. We want to join a program here that will drive us to create, like a workshop, like a residency. We’re looking for new places, we feel like we haven’t been to Paris enough. Or, at all.
What did you hear about Paris?
A lot of beautiful things. All people love Paris. They adore.
What did you hear about Paris?
Well, that’s it’s one of the capitals of art, and that it’s a cultural place…
What? What are you looking for?!
Behind the words.
Ok, about the food!
We heard it’s very romantic.
No! No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
Ok, so about the food.
Yeah food is…
You heard that Paris is where the money is?
No, no – that’s New York. When I think about Paris I don’t think about money. Paris is, I don’t know she’s gorgeous. She’s like, when you walk in the streets of Paris you, you’re really inspired, just because you looked at a building.
She’s gorgeous like a blonde?
No, no, no, no, no, she’s not gorgeous like a blonde. She’s gorgeous like an old lady, like a hipster old lady, you know the rich old ladies, ones who wear fancy fancy designs, like, really wild, high platforms and tons of make up, eighty years old, with sun glasses, big ones, but old. She’s super fancy and she walks in the streets very proud with a poodle.
You came for that?
Dede: You know we haven’t been a lot to Paris so yeah for the first time, for second time, yeah, we came for that.
Nitzan: And now, since we are here, we want to come back, for an art program or something and to stay for one month or two months, and that’s it.
What brought you to paint that wall?
Nitzan: We came to Streetartparis.fr, at the office, to ask for help because we are not locals, we don’t know the rules, we know nothing about creating here. Those people took us on a tour…
Dede: First they helped us search on the computer…
Nitzan: Yes, with Google Street View. And then, we found an ok wall, like a wall that can…
Dede: It was beige.
Nitzan: Yes, it was beige. A beige wall.
A lot of beige walls.
Nitzan: And, it wasn’t what we wanted, but that’s what we had, so we said ok let’s go for it, and I was a bit depressed because I said shit, it’s not my thing, beige, and, I like to do things that are more site-specific.
Dede: “This spot is not special enough… ”
Nitzan: And, I don’t know anything about this wall.
Dede: “It’s not falling apart, it’s not something that fits… ”
Nitzan: Yeah, it’s not something to fit, exactly. And we said ok, so we will do it in order to have something in Paris, to say that we have something in Paris. Something to be proud of back in our home-town of Tel-Aviv.
Dede: So, people will believe us.
Nitzan: Yes, believe us, and to worship us for doing it. And then we went, and we were walking, and then, suddenly, the Demian, he stopped for some reason, I don’t know and he said, this is the café that was attacked in the terror attacks six months ago. And then, I don’t know, we looked at the wall and I thought, the wall is very very ugly, because it’s not my type of wall. I like walls that are older, and falling apart, or with natural frames that the streets can provide. And I like to know the history. And then he told us the details of the hospital, and the terror attacks that happened here, and, wow, it was like, wow, ok, this wall is not exactly my type, and Dede’s also, but what a story this wall has. This wall was witness to the whole thing, which is very important to all. So, I said, ok maybe my art won’t look very good on it, because it’s not my regular style, but, wow, we will have a story, and then I took all my poems from my bag, and I started looking, and I didn’t even look, I just popped it out and then I said this one, this poem belongs to this wall. And I asked for people’s opinion, and Demian said “but, you’re going to do it in English?” And I said, what can I do? I don’t have a translation. And then, two girls that were with us, their names are Cécile and Léa, wonderful Léa and Cécile, they translated it. We went for a coffee, and we were sitting, and it was like happening. It was like three angels came to me. It was a miracle for me. I was standing outside of the scene and I was like, wow, I didn’t do anything for it to happen. Everything was like, connected, like boom, boom – it happened so fast and suddenly, I had a french translation to my poem, and I was able to communicate with the people who live in the space, in the area, which is amazing, because I didn’t prepare it so it was like a miracle. And everything was super, super, like a miracle, like it was supposed to happen. This is how I felt.
God came down from the sky?
Yeah, something like that. Like angels.
It’s the power of street art?
Nitzan: No, it’s the site-specific angels that came and saved me. The site-specific angels came because they know! They know that it’s important to me to create site-specific walls with my poetry. They know it, and instead of making it really boring like a wall, with text, it doesn’t have any connections, they brought me, boom. I think the most interesting location ever, and by accident I had this poem and that exactly fits into the location, exactly, it’s like I wrote it for the location – but basically I wrote it about Israel – and everything happened like that, which is very, very, very scary and beautiful.
Dede, why a bandaid?
I paint a bandaid to heal, it’s a kind of a trademark for me. I have been painting the bandaid for almost 10 years now. It developed from different places and has different meanings. People can relate to it in different ways and for me it keeps changing as I continue to investigate meanings, and compositions.
Actually, I wanted to paint a bandaid because I know I can do it quickly and today we don’t have much time, but then when we to this specific location and it made sense. It fits the place and the area then all of the associations I had here – suddenly it just felt right to actually paint this specific piece. It can stay as a tag in different places but here it meant something more important for me. Something that I can relate to and something that I think the people in the area can relate to in different places. And I think it fits with the text. But we didn’t do it before like this, like assemble text with this, with the image. I think it fits well.
Nitzan: Yes, very well.
Dede: I hope people will like it.
What was going through you in terms of a connection between what happened there, what happened in this area, and what’s happened many many times in Israel? Not exactly the same but… random acts of terror against non-military targets. How were you relating that to your own experiences?
There is a connection. I feel like in Paris it’s like such a new situation. That you can feel it in the air, you can see the people, the way the woman who came up to me while I was working and read the poem, how she reacted, she was crying. In Tel-Aviv, I don’t think it would happen because if I would put the same poem in Tel-Aviv, no one will ever connect it with terror. Or they will, politics will, but not to specific cases because those terror attacks happen all the time. We are like inside – it’s like mainstream.
Dede: Yes, people are growing with this condition. It is with us all the time. Here, when you put it in such a specific area…
Nitzan: You know it’s unique. Because this area is unique. It’s like you were born with migraines, so you will deal with that through all your life, but for a person who just had her first time with a migraine, he can throw-up, he won’t go to work, he won’t do anything, he’ll be paralysed. So, for us, it’s like growing with the migraine all our lives. So it hurts very much, but we know how to work with it, and we know how to eat with it, to go to see friends with it, until it happens really to you, to one of the members of your family, or your friends, and then it’s like a new migraine. Because, if it happens to someone in Israel you’re very sad and you’re shocked, but when it happens to you, it’s another story and luckily I don’t have that kind of experience in my family or with my friends.
Dede: There was an attack also at a bar in Tel-Aviv on Dizengoff Street, that was the last attack when the terrorist came and just shot everyone at this junction.
Nitzan: A Palestinian man with a gun.
Dede: It wasn’t related to ISIS, there was no connotation, but in his ideas he was influenced by tapes and movies. He started shooting in the middle of the street, like, a really busy street and in this pub, in the middle of the day, he shot and killed one of the owners of the pub. And then this pub got shut down for a week. Then they started to fix the pub, and to try and continue. And recently, they asked me to come and paint inside and also when I came I talk with the owners and people in the pub, and I came to the conclusion to paint the bandaid, and we actually did it like two weeks ago. Two bandaids on both walls and also in the memory of the owner who dies.
Nitzan: So, there is this connection between the two places.