The photographer, model and Tumblr queen Arvida Byström speaks on the influence of feminism on her norm-defying work
Taken from the autumn/winter 2015 issue of Dazed:
Photographer, model and cyber-girl Arvida Byström uses the internet in every way you could possibly imagine. With art that breaks down the barriers of gender politics and deconstructs beauty ideals, her Tumblr is much more than recycled images plastered onto a pink-tinged virtual wall. “I think the internet is really important to many people,” says Byström. “To me, it was a little window out of a very closed room of teenage depression because I could be online and still meet people, even though I felt like shit. Finding Tumblr was a big deal, and that was when I started developing my particular aesthetic. It’s great for finding subcultures, which is important for young people who have more time, and are more bored, and who have to stay at their parents’ place or at home.”
“You can't just make ‘feminist art’ because feminism is more like a spectrum of things; it changes and depends on its context” – Arvida Byström
From films to photographs, Byström’s work is splashed with glitter and candy colours, though she’s quick to point out that her own ideas about femininity have nothing to do with gender binary. With images of body hair, periods and men in feminine clothing, her art subverts gender expectations in a way that’s endlessly fun and always off-the-wall. “I am definitely a feminist,” she says. “When I was 18, my friend introduced me to a lot of feminist ideas. Then I stumbled across blogs about queer feminism, and I always identified with being queer, so it was really cool to find queer feminists too.”
However, she doesn’t think her work should be labelled inherently ‘feminist’. “You can't just make ‘feminist art’ because feminism is more like a spectrum of things; it changes and depends on its context. Also, the art world is so narrow for a lot of people. Changes need to happen in society for more people to make art, people that aren’t just white and middle class. But there are loads of people on Tumblr and Instagram who are amazing; queer people and people of colour doing their thing.” With anarchic new brands like Faith Connexion ripping up the world of fashion – and artists like Byström keeping the internet radical – it’s never been a more exciting time to be young, free and plugged-in.
See more of Arvida Byström's work here