Fòcas Programme Director Katherine Parhar interviews Fòcas India exhibitor Tine Bek, a photographer based in Glasgow about her project ‘Glasgow Girls’.

© Tine Bek

F: Glasgow Girls is a personal project, documenting the women you know, but they refer powerfully to the history of female representation, don’t they? What drew you to re-contextualise the images in this way?

T: I think for this project I had some of the images long before I knew that they would later somehow form a meaning that would join them all together as a whole. Glasgow Girls had many different names previously, but none of them seemed to fit or express what I wanted to say with the images.

Back in art school I made different book dummies for the project. I desperately tried to make the project happen, however it was not the right time, and the images were not strong enough at that stage. When I then returned to school to do my masters, this idea of portraying notions around femininity as a way of deconstructing it, kept returning. Ultimately it was not till this spring that the project took its final form in Glasgow Girls. Im not sure what actually clicked in my head but for some reason I suddenly saw it all very clearly. Glasgow Girls was actually, without me knowing the longest ongoing series of images I have worked on.

With the title I refer back to the Glasgow Girls of a different period and as a group of creatives who all went through the Glasgow School of art or were hanging around the crowd. Although the term and title Glasgow Girls was created much later to celebrate the creativity that was happening around Glasgow including for women artists. And I think this fact reflects my version of Glasgow Girls very well. The girls in the photographs are not members of an outlined movement or ideology, however they are all individuals whom I have met during my time in the city. The girls in the project act more as symbols and statement rather than portraits of specific people.

For me personally the project is a way to portray the ambiguity of ideas around the feminine, while at the same time allowing myself to be infatuated with a specific light and atmosphere. Many of the photographs are taken in connection with my previous address, which was a beautiful tenement that was was falling apart. I had never lived anywhere similar and although it would be cold in the winter and the floorboards were crumbling apart, there was something so romantic and almost fairytale like about that way of living. It reminded me somehow of a different era, and allowed me to pay attention to the colours of the rooms, the changing of light, and the beauty of the materials around me. Most of the girls photographed where introduced to me when living there, and a lot of the images are taken in that house.

© Tine Bek

F: Your independent publishing house, Earth Saga Press, has produced three editions addressing gender and identity and culture; how do you feel photography functions, for you, at the intersections among the three?

T: Yes, two of the volumes are on gender specifically, and questions the expectations we have to these roles. The third volume has taken much longer than I first expected. This is both due to the fact that I often work on many projects and initiatives at a time, and for some reason this last volume feels different from the previous by taking on the subject of sexuality, and having both lots of text and photography included. This relationship between image and the written word is something which has become increasingly important within my curatorial and editorial practices. I almost feel like the text and the photograph goes together as equals and as opposites, if this makes sense. As if they are each a reflection of each other reversed. The third volume will actually be launched this September in Glasgow, so keep an eye out for it.

Anyway, to get back to your actual question, I think that photography is a brilliant tool to express a point or to tell a story. For my own photography, as a maker, I am deeply interested in identity, and our own ideas about and relationship to our selves. Many of my projects are about this identity searching within history, tradition and culture, and is projected in different ways deepening of the series.

For me photography is my main ‘tool’ and I would probably call myself a photographer before I would tell someone that I’m an artist. Although multi layered it feels simple for me as a profession and I like that. It is not seething that I stubble with or try to force. I go through faces of taking loads of pictures and feeling inspired all the time, and then there will be more hibernating periods where the photographer within me sleeps while I as a person try to reflect on what is going to happen next and how to keep working.

The next year will be quite a challenge for me as I am to work on some projects where video and installation will be taking the focus. Which is exiting and scary. This along with having loads of more commercial photo jobs can be hard to differentiate at times. But I try to draw a line by using my film cameras for my projects and using digital when doing jobs. I know many art photographers who prefers not to mix their art with commercial aspects and I understand and respect that very well, however for me personally photography is also bread and butter, and almost any kind of photographing keeps me happy.

F: How do you feel your curatorial work at 16 Nicholson Street and your photographic practice inform one another (if at all)?

T: Im sure that the work I do curatorial and my own practice has some sort of relationship with each other, however it is maybe more so expressed via practical elements such and organising and planning. Of course there is a certain visual aesthetic that shines through, and I do have a taste that might be spottable at times. However I do feel that what we do at 16 Nicholson Street is miles away from my own practice, but this might be due to the role I have here. Being a communicator and facilitator is the opposite of what I do as an artists in some aspects. But I believe that the communication skills and knowledge I have gained via curating is certainly beneficial for my way of acting and interacting as an artists. So without actually influencing the work both roles give me a bit of perspective in each of the relative fields, which is a plus I think.

Tine Attended Fatamorgana, the Danish school of art photography in 2008. Assisted at Ryan McGinley’s studio in New York and later came to study Fine Art Photography, at Glasgow School of Art where she Graduated from a Master in photography in 2015. Recent travels include a long term residency in Buenos Aires and Portland, where both cases resulted in solo exhibitions. Tine has been awarded several grants and awards including SAXA Art Trust, The Danish Arts Council funding and Hope Scott Trust to name a few. Alongside exhibiting she also works within the realm of curating both of artist publication, exhibitions and long-term collaborative projects, as well as organising educational opportunities for artists. Since 2016 she has been curator and co director of Glasgow gallery and arts collective; 16 Nicholson Street.