Arvida Byström's favourite colour is PINK, her Tumblr is a minefield of glittery GIF-bombs and selfies and her photography and artwork is a purposefully overly-girly comment on gender stereotyping. We talk to the qt of the online generation.
Arvida Byström is the 22 year old Stockholm native who dreamt of being a princess when she was a kid, grew up on the internet and is now a third (or even fourth?) wave feminist with a "pink hair, don't care" attitude, a gallery in East London that has a pink floor and a dress named after her by Meadham Kirchhoff. Her past art works include Girl Gaze, a zine for girls to sexualise boys, moving into the Wayward Gallery for a week with artist, Tim Kelly, and broadcasting their developing relationship including sex (under the sheets) and losing her 'Hollywood' wax virginity to demonstrate her sceptical views on monogamy and a mass of selfies posted on her Tumblr which have been spread throughout the internet via shares and ♥'s. Questioning gender stereotypes with stigmatised subjects such as periods and body hair, whether you like it or not, whether it's masked in pretty pastels or 'aggressively girly' (as one of her friends once described her Tumblr) Arvida has a point to get across and she's got a world wide web of like-minded gals including Tavi Gevinson, Petra Collins and the rest of her pals in the female photography collective The Arduous, to back her up!
What do you do?
I'm an artist, mainly using photography. I do some curational work and bits and pieces as well.
Where are your favourite London hangouts?
Tbh, my studio.
What are you working on at the moment?
Putting on a group show in Copenhagen and KBH Kunstahall with Maja Malou Lyse.
When did you start your Tumblr?
Why did you start your Tumblr?
Cuz I saw a "How To Hit On Someone On Tumblr" instruction and there were some qt gals on there. But I got hooked w the whole other thing instead.
Did you ever think it would bring the fame you have now?
Well, I've been online for a long time. I had a blog before that was somewhat known. More than tumblr it's about me moving to London. I still work loads w ppl through emails etc but ppl seem to LOVE that one lives in London.
When did you become a feminist?
More aware of it at 18. I think I've been a feminist for longer than that though.
Was there something in particular that triggered it?
My friend Katja Lindeberg <3
A lot of your work is centred around sexuality, what is it that interests you so much about it?
Why do you say it's centered around sexuality? A closer look, most of it isn't. Maybe about gender. But seldom about sexuality, except the zine I did Girl Gaze.
Do you think your work could ever get too close to porn?
I dont have any problems with the idea of porn. I think aesthetics that resembles porn is more problematic. But sex on tape or on photo is nothing bad. But comon seriously, it's fine to get sexually aroused by my photos if people feel like it. But what is it really suggesting that that is my main purpose? I think people are sexualising bodies just cuz it's bodies in my photos. I'm sorry that I enjoy shooting ppl, but I just wished everyone stopped reading sex into every body all the fucking time.
What do your parents think of your work?
What are you suggesting here though. They more just don't get my aesthetics all the time.
What adversities have you had to deal with since you started getting your art out there?
Hm, idk. I think the biggest struggles I have is with myself. And there is load of crap critique, but when it comes to intersectionality etc. there is loads of people that been giving me eye-opening critique etc.
Have you ever been banned from Instagram?...
do you think I'm Petra Collins? You are aware of that we are different people.
Have you ever been in a long-term monogamous relationship?
When I was 14 - 15 yes. Since then no. Though today I think if I would have to (but would I ever have to?) I think if I found myself in a monogamous relationship I would, due to poly relationships and thoughts, be able to have a way better moni relationship than before.
Have you ever been in love?
Do you think the right person will eventually come along who you will want to be in a monogamous relationship with?
Loads of right people have been coming along. I tend to live pretty mono anyways. Mainly due to lack of time (partners are pretty time consuming, but bless all those qt-s out there) and that I don't go out that much. I think going out and stuff are times when you meet new people to hook up w. And now I'm actually compeltely solo for once. That's a bit weird.
You mentioned in another interview that modeling previously drove you to an eating disorder, how did you overcome this?
Well modeling and loads of factors drew me to it. So basically, I have a few inches "too much" on my hips. I used to hate my hips. Then I quit modeling and now I like my body you know. Now when I'm modeling it's not on a convetional agency, no one will tell me to lose weight and I would never lose weight to keep up modelling you know.
Why do you take selfies?
Cuz it rulez.
You’re very open about your body and sexuality, would you say you’re a confident person?
Hm, idk. What does that really mean. I think it's situational.
What are your views on Tinder?
Well, I guess it's for straight ppl but I've met and chatted with a few qt ppl on there.
How did you meet Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff?
Well, I shot this thing for Garage mag that Tavi and Ed put together. It was about Tumblr girls and internty ppl I guess. I only knew Tavi back then, we've been blogging kind of equally long etc. But then, next show, Ed and Benjamin named a dress after me. And I've seen a few of their pretty shows and stuff as well! Always beautiful work.
Who are some of the best internet artists around today?
Weeeell can I say just artists because it's such a floating term but: Gabby Bess, Grace Miceli, Jennifer Chan, Patricia Alvarado, Maja Malou Lyse, Beth Siveyer, Jillian Mayer aaand fuck feels like I've forgotten a million ppl now. Also my friend Sara Andreasson just showed me loads of her new work, which is amazing so keep ur eyes open for dat.
What other feminists do you relate to?
My friends. Queer feminists.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Hopefully curating more. But tbh. No clue.