Fashion model and digital artist Britta Thie is also the writer-director-star of the hyped web series Translantics, commissioned by ZDF and Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt – binge-watch all six episodes at www.schirn.de/translantics, or watch them at Schinkel Pavillon December 10-12.
Your background is in fashion and video art – why make this TV-like series?
I’ve always kind of wanted to be an actress too, but didn’t want to pursue it. I love watching TV shows, I love Netflix. I’ve watched a show a lot lately called Mr. Robot – I just love these serial dramas that copy gossip and lifestyle, and rather than make fun of it, I quote it, or work with those aesthetics, because they’re quite alluring. But of course I like to have control over the aesthetic. That’s why I studied art.
Why focus on the lives of Berlin’s expat artists?
I’m a German country girl, and when I first moved to Berlin I was meeting all these expats at art school. Going home to my parent’s house felt and still feels so crazy, in some ways escapist; in just a few hours you can be completely outside this international bubble. The series reflects on this weird feeling of being in between – in between generations, but also languages and cultures.
How did you develop characters like the over-the-top Lacy Loco?
The script was written out, but the actors were part-creators of their roles. Lacy Loco really is the creation of Lily McMenamy. I gave her Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians as a reference – this insecure, lunatic gallerista – and she just went all the way with it. I wish I could say that Lacy is one crazy person from the art world, but she’s more of a mix of all kinds of things I’ve experienced in the field in the last 10 years.
The most annoying characters are American…
[Laughs] Honestly, that’s a coincidence. We shot it mostly in English because my personal reality is that I don’t speak much German here anymore – in the art and creative scene, people mostly speak English. Ben, the gallery assistant character, is played by the artist Billy Rennekamp. He’s the nicest guy in real life, but he made up this super bro-y, douche-y character!
You play the character BB, who is an artist and model, as you are off-screen. Did you intend the series to be so autobiographical?
We didn’t really have time to come up with a perfect plot, so instead I put aspects of myself into the character, and dispersed or exaggerated them. But I learned that I would’ve liked to hide more in a role. Looking back I worry that it’s too navel-gazing, but I don’t think so.
Translantics has been described as Girls meets Ryan Trecartin.
I love Trecartin’s work and I think Lena Dunham is an amazing and smart girl who made a cool TV show. But we were annoyed that it was framed this way because we thought we’d made our own dreamy painterly diary, with a very unique Berlin backdrop.
What’s the difference between showing art online versus in a gallery space?
It’s definitely nice to know that it’s being seen by people in the countryside, like my parents and their friends. Fine artists are always addressing this very narrow niche of the art world, so it was a nice feeling that this was reaching more than just the people who read about speculative realism and go to all the right art shows.
TRANSLANTICS, Dec 10-12, 19:00 | Schinkel Pavillon, Oberwallstr. 1, Mitte, U-Bhf Hausvogteiplatz