Poetry in Motion

Nitzan Mintz

To add to my last post, I was able to interview one-of-a-kind Israeli street poet Nitzan Mintz. After seeing her work in the tunnel by the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, I was eager to talk to her. For more photos of Nitzan’s artwork, please go here or visit her Facebook.

What does it mean to be a street poet?

Being a street poet is a new way of putting art in the street. In Israel, I may be the first artist who presents her work to the public in such a way. Until recently, most of the words you could see on the streets were tags, slogans, or quotes from well-established poets. I present my poetry in an artistic way that combines the words with plastic art. Combining art & poetry, & presenting it on the street is something which no one before me has done.

How did you get to where you are now?

I have been writing poetry since I was 15. During my army service when I came home on the weekends, I had an urge to express myself freely & to reach a larger audience. I started writing poems on pieces of wood that I found in the streets & hanging them on telephone poles. I always looked for new ways of expressing myself, which led me to write on rocks along the beach, old doors, old walls, & buildings that were not inhabited. I’ve done this all over the country, but especially in my beloved city of Tel Aviv. Sometimes the text is the main ingredient in my artwork, but sometimes the text only accompanies the plastic art. I always use simple materials that I find in the streets, which I recycle to become an art piece. When I work in the street, I plan my art according to the site. Sometimes it’s important for the words to regard the surroundings. I also do art which is made for homes & galleries. Just recently, I participated in a group exhibition in London. For the past three years, I have been studying creative writing & plastic art for my BA degree.

Can you talk about your recent project from the photos?

My recent project in Jerusalem was a collaboration between a well- known artist from England by the name of “My Dog Sighs”, myself, & an artist named Maya Gelfman. My partner, Uri Yariv, produced the event along with the municipality of Jerusalem. We received an underground passage in the central station in Jerusalem & we dedicated the tunnel to the people of Jerusalem. The interaction between us led to a very emotional work of art that touched many people. We know that because we get many responses on Facebook.

Why do you sign your real name, as opposed to a tag?

I have nothing to hide from because I bring meaning & beauty to my surroundings. I want to communicate with the people who read my work. I also do that through Facebook. I take full responsibility for my art in the streets, which means that I never harm the environment or cause damage to people’s property.

How would you describe the street art scene in Israel?

Israel is full of very creative & talented street artists, who have to support & finance themselves. There isn’t any official support from the municipalities. Therefore, the artists have to manage themselves sometimes as an underground activity. All the well-known artists know each other & cooperate on projects. I know most of them. Some are very good friends of mine & I really appreciate their art. Since we work somewhat underground, the situation makes us closer & we tend to help each other in various ways.

As a female artist, do you feel any feminist obligations?

I do create from a feminist point of view. Some of my text supports women’s status, or emphasizes women’s subjects; especially the mistreatment of women in our society. Most of the time, I try to create lyrics in a way that refers to both male & female. My recent artwork dealt with a woman’s “tear factory.” It presents the hardship of being a super woman that has to fight for her livelihood, while taking care of her family, children, household, & also looking for some peace & quiet. This is a mission that is almost impossible. I am still young & not married, but I hope that when I have my own family, my partner & I will share the burden equally. This way I can keep creating to succeed in the art scene without being totally exhausted.

Can you talk about the gallery you own?

The pop-up gallery is located in Neve Tzedek and it is a creation with my friend, the art producer, Uri Yariv. We dedicate our gallery to street artists from Israel & all over the world. Although we just opened, we have been visited by many art lovers & received many good reviews. In our last exhibition, we hosted My Dog Sighs from the UK.

 What’s next for you?

My wish is to keep creating & presenting my art in the streets & in galleries as well. I put a lot of energy into writing prose & scripts. I hope to publish my writing in the future. I want to be able to live off of my art work, which is very difficult for most artists, who hardly survive. In creating my gallery, I hope to allow many talented artists to show their work to the public in a warm atmosphere.

poetry: Nitzan Mintz
About the Author
Currently living on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in Bet She'an, Israel.