Tine Bech, BikeTAG-Colour Keepers, Playable City
I interviewed Tine Bech, a Danish artist who has lived in London for 22 years. During the lockdown she was stranded in Denmark, wanting to and unable to get home to London. The film of our conversation is here.
‘Denmark locked down two weeks before the UK. I was on the last flight into Denmark.
After two months of nursing my mother back to health, I discovered I couldn’t get back home to London. There were no flights. I asked someone who usually moves my artworks if he could take me. It was a beautiful and strange journey on empty, hard German motorways, soft asphalt in Amsterdam and a channel ferry full of truckers. There was only one other woman onboard. It felt like a big culture shift coming back to England. Denmark has a female, socialist prime minister. In Denmark you can get tested everywhere. Now I’m preparing to go back again. I fear that I am coming from something bad (London) going into something cleaner (Denmark). I don’t want to be a carrier. Collective responsibility is important at this time.’
The virus focuses us on what is home. Many of us have been living between places and in transit. ‘Creatives move around a lot’, says Tine. ‘We need to absorb the world to reflect it back. We need to move out into the world.’ It’s also an economic necessity for artists. We have to go to the work. The need to be released from lockdown and go somewhere is a strong human imperative. ‘Creatives are always looking at the horizon and at the same time having the core need for home, for a base. It’s a seesaw - home is super important/we are longing for horizon. We need both.’
‘It is a chance for rethinking. The pandemic has caused dramatic behavioural change and we have witnessed that globally, because we’ve never been this connected before. It’s an opportunity to think about place and moving and the climate. Even though we’ve been hiding during lockdown, there’s been less hiding. We are all on screen and desperately connecting.’
‘My work is all about placemaking, working with people on a site. The artist’s studio today is out in place. I’ve had to resort, during lockdown, to working as a studio artist. It’s really rare for me to be in the studio. But I’ve been having a great time working with colour. My work asks how do you create a social space? How do you make public environments human and welcoming? Our public places are a threat in the inner city.’ See Tine's fabulous work in public spaces around the world here.
‘The lockdown has focused us on the hyperlocal. We have been discovering our local places, and our neighbours with fresh eyes, undertaking art residencies in our back gardens or sheds. But the lockdown has also been a motivation/emotional roller coaster without equilibrium, which is important for making artwork. We need some sort of safety to be creative. A lot of people haven’t had a creative lockdown.’
‘I’m interested to know,’ she concludes, ‘how did we play during the lockdown? Our everyday creativity changed. What is the vocabulary of play in a crisis? I’ve haven’t articulated it yet, but I’m exploring what is dark play, what is the dark creative.’