Israeli artists bring their creations to the Czech Republic and Croatia

  (photo credit: Vojtech Brtnicky)
(photo credit: Vojtech Brtnicky)

Israeli street artists Dede Bandaid and Nitzan Mintz were recently invited for a month-long residency in Prague, where they created a special mural combining Mintz’s poetry and Dede’s colors and motives. Shortly after, Dede Bandaid also visited Croatia, where he painted a mural on the facade of a school.

In the Czech Republic, the project was first conceived by the Israeli Ambassador to Prague Anna Azari, and organized in cooperation with the Embassy of Israel in the Czech Republic, JCC Prague and Kreativní Praha (Creative Prague).

“This is the first project I did in Prague after I started my posting,” Azari recalled. “I remember working with Nitzan and Dede in Poland when I was ambassador there. They created a beautiful project in Lodz when we invited them there, so I was very happy to have them come to the Czech Republic, too”.

The concept behind the initiative was to foster the creation of artwork in the public space, accessible to everyone. The mural covers the wall of a seven-story building (17m x12m) located in the city’s Art District 7, a former industrial area turned into a popular neighborhood suitable for street art. Daramis, the company that owns the building, granted its permission to use the wall for the mural. Several officials, including Deputy Head of Prague 7 and City Councillor for Culture Hana Trestikova, Head of Prague 7 Jan Čižinsky, and Director of JCC Prague Pavlina Šulcová, as well as Ambassador Azari, attended its inauguration.

“I have one thing left of you: a gold color irremovable and unwashable and streaming,”  reads the poem featured on the mural.

"I would like to leave the interpretation of the poem open to anyone who walks by and reads it. But for me, it's a poem about love and loneliness,” Mintz said.

Mintz studied fine arts and creative writing. Like Dede, she creates mainly in public space. Her poems are personal but they also stem from her work as an activist. They are written with an urgency to verbally and visually express her thoughts in response to her surroundings, politics, or social issues.

Dede Bandaid is one of Tel Aviv's most visible street artists. He has been creating in the public space since 2006. His projects respond not only to the transformation of the city and urbanism but also to social and personal issues. Dede's most famous symbol is the bandaid - a symbol from which he received his nickname. The meaning of each patch varies by location, but it is also a universal patch for the wounds we all have.

Both artists often create together. Their works can be seen mainly in Tel Aviv, but in addition to Prague they are also featured in New York, Berlin, Lodz, and Mexico City. Dede and Nitzan have also exhibited in several international galleries.

During the residency, the artists also held two Art Talks about their works in Prague and worldwide. The first was organized in cooperation with the Lauder School of the city for students ages 16-18. The second lecture was open to the general public, co-organized together with Creative Prague in the Prague Creative Center, the same building were renowned Czech writer Franz Kafka lived from 1889 to 1896. The lecture was also streamed and is available online on the JCC Prague YouTube channel.

The Prague Creative Center was established by the city’s municipality as a living and creative laboratory and hub for various cultural organizations and NGOs. It is a complex of several originally Romanesque or Gothic houses connected together and later rebuilt in Renaissance and Classicist style. The center is located in the heart of Prague, next to the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square, and is visited by many students and young adults.

  (credit: Think Sisak) (credit: Think Sisak)

Dede and Nitzan also created artwork in the center.

In September, Dede also visited Croatia, with the support of the Embassy of Israel in Zagreb. He painted a mural on an elementary school in the city of Sisak, 57 kilometers southeast of the capital. About two years ago, the city experienced widespread destruction after it was hit by an earthquake.

“When we arrived to Sisak, Croatia we didn't know what to expect,” Dede wrote on Instagram. “We knew the place went through a huge earthquake while also suffering from the pandemic. That is besides the cruel history of wars between the countries that used to be parts of Yugoslavia. We had goosebumps learning that in the Second World War, in this city there was a concentration camp built only for kids.”

Dede described working on the mural as a “touching experience.”

“First of all it's a school for young kids from working class families. Some of them are minorities of different kinds,” he said. “The school has an amazing principal and she really wants to make the difference for them, helping them grow as happy human beings.”

“We had the honor to give something to this school and leaving a meaningful closure as an artwork for the community,” he concluded. “May all the places that knew bloodshed and disasters heal and carry so much love.”

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