Arvida Byström, the Swedish, selfie-stick obsessed, Instagram-native creates images that converse with our online identity and the tension between the pleasures and anxieties that surface through digital culture. Arvida’s work exists within its own web language of pastels, flowers, selfies and pink USB cables.
Initially inspired by Tumblr, she started posting pictures on her account and taking part in a community of female artists questioning feminity and gender standards, using a so-called “girly” aesthetic so as to redefine the norms of acceptable and preferable female visual representation. Continuing to take selfies and discovering feminism, Byström also discussed the cultural representation of topics around period and female body hair. The project There Will Be Blood was published in Vice, on 17 May 2012 and she recently starred in Adidas campaign targeting non-acceptance of female body hair in the fashion industry. As a member of the female collective The Ardorous, Byström presented some of her photographs in Babe – a book published in May 2015, including the work of 30 other female artists, curated by Petra Collins. The same year, Byström took part in the exhibition Girls At Night On The Internet, curated by Grace Miceli, together with artists such as Collins, Molly Soda and Maggie Dunlap. The show dealt with the misrepresentation of young artists such as themselves in the art world and showcased their work IRL. Taking part in creating an online culture that aims at reinventing body norms and which is all about self-empowerment, Byström also created a performance with the artist Maja Malou Lyse, which was called Selfie Stick Aerobics. It is a tutorial that shows how to take better selfies and which aims at making participants feel beautiful by accepting their bodies as they are. In October 2015, Byström and Lyse published a video about this performance on YouTube. Reusing the form of the tutorial they ironically question the role of selfie culture in contemporary visual and popular culture. Byström utilizes Instagram to explores self-identity as a queer woman and questions sexualized women’s bodies. Together with artist Molly Soda she edited a book about Instagram censorship, called Pics or It Didn’t Happen: Images Banned From Instagram. The book was released in March 2017 and showcases mostly pictures of women’s bodies that Instagram has taken down. She recently took part in a group exhibition titled Virtual Normality – Woman Net Artist 2.0. at Museum der bildenden Kunste in Leipzig.