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About a Girl:

Arvida Byström

Interview by Kate Williams
This Swedish artist and model claims to be a little lost cake, but we think she's doing just fine, TYVM.

Introduce yourself and tell us where you live and what you do.

-My name is Arvida Byström. I was born in Stockholm in 1991 but I currently live in London. I'm mostly a little lost cake but I'm devoted to photography, which I practice as a profession. I also do some modeling on occasion and billions of other weird stuff.

How did you get started taking photographs?

-I usually say I started because I'm lazy. I used to paint a lot as a kid and early teen but it's easier to just grab a camera and shoot. Now it's not about being lazy; I can spend quite some time on retouching and planning photos. It's not so much about getting started. I grew up in the age where digital cameras were everywhere. I've been shooting photos since I was 12, just because I could, you know? And then it just slowly grew into something more serious.

Would you consider photography your primary artistic medium?

-Yeah. Right now, yeah.

What are some of the main themes and ideas that you try to address with your work?

-Well, I'd say that changes. I guess it's a lot about sexuality since I've been interested in that on a theoretical level for I don't know, just a long time now. But everything isn't about that.

A lot of your art deals with subjects that historically are supposed to make women uncomfortable. How did you decide these were things you wanted to discuss with your work?

-I am really good at feeling weird in group situations, yet I look at myself as a very normal person. This kind of makes me want to take things one could be embarrassed of in front of a group and see if it's possible to make people change their minds, or at least think a little bit about why they might see certain things in certain ways. And I like to present my work in a pretty, popular, cultural and relatable way.

There's a big movement in art and fashion—like with a lot of members of The Ardorous—of embracing symbols that are traditionally girly: pink, cats, florals. How do you think this fits into how your generation is redefining feminism?

-It's all a bit third-wave feminism, isn't it? Or maybe even a fourth-wave, who knows? For me it's about bringing something that's been forever attached to childhood, little girls and unseriousness, and ask if it's possible to see it in another way. What's so unserious about it?

Do you think female sexuality is represented differently when approached by an artist like yourself or Petra Collins than it is when it is approached by an older male artist?

-This is a constant question when it comes to art: the concept and the artist behind it, in opposition to the piece representing something totally by itself. That's a pretty hard question. I'd say that a piece of art can have a personal impact on its own and be important for one person, but in a bigger perspective it kind of matters if a man took the photo or not. It matters if we talk about structures and tendencies. So, basically I'd say looking at one person's art piece and then realizing he is a man does say little about that piece of art. But if we look at who tends to shoot what, and why, then it can say a lot in a bigger perspective.

In addition to working a lot with self-portraits, you also model for a lot of other people. How do you like modeling?

-I used to refuse to let people shoot me after a bad model experience I had when I was younger. Agencies were a horrible experience and I always had too-big hips, which dug me deeper into eating disorders. But then I started to let people shoot me again because I was like, 'Wait, I'm a photographer who enjoys shooting people. How the hell can I refuse to get shot by other people?' And then it started again. But I don't know, the best shoots are with Valerie Phillips. We just hang out, chat a lot, discuss a lot and shoot some during that. That's cool.

Tell us about your hat collaboration.

-Well, haha, it's not that complicated. It's me and Beth, who runs the Girls Get Busy Zine. We just wanted to start to do some shit!

What other projects are you working on right now?

-I'm working on some photos for a Japanese magazine right now. It's kind of exciting. I also work on a lot of tiaras I'm gonna sell on an exhibition that is going to be in Japan as well, but through a total other contact. I'm also making a zine with male babes (whatever that means). I'll also have an exhibition with a friend of mine at the end of this month, which won't be any still photos at all and kind of crazy. Well, we'll see. Things are changing all the time.

Who are five female artists who you think everyone should be aware of?

-Grimes, Dora Moutot is rad, you gotta know Molly Soda, Rosemary Kirton and the Ardorous team. Maybe we will all take over the world some day.

Five Tumblrs to follow?

-I always lose everyone's URL. Sorry.

Who is your favorite cat on the Internet?

-MEOW. TOO MANY. Like, who can't like Grumpy Cat? Grumpy Cat is the BEST. But there are soo many.

Choose:

Pink or red?

-Pink. The whole concept of my art is pink is better than red.

Film or Digital?

-Digital.

Mermaids or Fairies?

-Aaaw. No hate. I choose both.

Smiley face or peace sign?

-;*

Arvida Byström
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