August 2, 2013

Spotlight: Arvida Bystrom

I like her because she makes me think.

Arvida Bystrom makes me think. Her sexual subversion masked in shades of pastel makes her a tastemaker on the Internet, and a trendsetter for the entire Internet art movement. She is Tumblr’s subversion opus, and her audience (of the Tumblr, Vice, and Rookie demographics upon others) is following her every new move. Internet Art can get repetitive. Interviews examining the concept of Internet Art can get repetitive. Yet, Bystrom is anything but. Check out this interview for her opinions of the ownership of art, Apple’s capitalism and nude photography.

THE LE SIGH: Has your URL work seeped into the IRL ("in real life") world yet? Or does your Internet fame feel mostly separate from your everyday life?

Arvida Bystrom: I think Internet is very real. So everything I do online is therefore existing in people’s real life. About my so-called "internet fame," I don't know. I couldn't tell it apart from me, I don't know if people would treat me differently due to me being somewhat exposed on internet. Internet is big though, most people that aren't in specific internet circles haven't seen it.

TLS: You're from Sweden but the Internet has helped spread your work internationally. What's been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

AB: I'm not extremely impressed by fame etc, I like my work and hope to be able to continue doing it with out that much compromising. It's pretty amazing when people buy tickets for me to go places though, I'm going to Japan soon which i'm super excited about. It was pretty surreal though when Meadham Kirchhoff named a dress after me.

TLS: How did Vice and Rookie approach you for work?

AB: Vice approached me though Facebook when I was 16. Since I’m in the Ardorous, Petra knows Tavi very well, plus Tavi used to link my blog from hers way way back. So we kind of knew of each other for a very long time. She always does great stuff and Rookie is such a great site.

TLS: "There Will Be Blood" was published in VICE almost a year ago but it catapulted onto my dashboard only recently (and now it's everywhere I look.) How does it feel like for your work to blow up again?

AB: I didn't know it was blown up. I think it will be around a lot until people actually accept that loads of people in the world are fucking menstruating.

TLS: Is it strange to have your art on a platform in which consumers can interact with it/add their own commentary so easily? Does it ever detract from your sole ownership of the art (or maybe enhance your experience)?

AB: I don’t think ownership of art is important per se. The reason I do think it is somewhat important though is inside capitalism, because I put time into it and in this society I kind of get to be paid from time, so in that way I have to own my photos somewhat, so whenever people wanna sell them etc. Otherwise it doesn't concern me if I don't seem to own stuff. If it drifts around on Internet and loses my name, [I am] well a little bit sad but I rather make sure people see my photos than they see my name. And then if people add smart or stupid comments, that's up to them.

TLS: What backlash or controversy about your work have you dealt with?

AB: Well some smart amazing people been confronting me about cultural appropriation, I also try to get more different body types in to my art and similar ideas and stuff like that are things I take really seriously. Other backlashes or controversy I couldn’t give a shit about.

TLS: iCry's really interesting because it demonstrates the depression that does often accompany technology. But obviously, we all love the Internet so much. What's the balance? What's your opinion on our generation's use of the Internet?

AB: I love internet. [Of course] it has bad sides as well. But I love it. It's my sister, my mother, my best friend and my worst enemy. But iCry is more about iPhones and Mac as a company. Fucking everyone has an iPhone, and I did too for a while and that gave me a bit of a crisis. I’m also in one of the photos. I just don't like when people worship one company as it is a god. It's not god, It's capitalism. Ain’t a pretty thing.

TLS: Did you have hesitations your first time you were the subject of nude photography? How did you deal with that?

AB: Well, an Internet friend posted a nude photo on a Swedish site when we were about 15, and i was like ‘wow creepy stalkers might murder her.’ Because that was what grown ups and media told you. Internet will kill you if you are a girl.

But then sometime, I don’t know when, I started to take my own nudes. Defining my own body. The only thing that pisses me off with nude is the high art nude vs the pornographic pic. I think nude as nude. Don’t try to claim you do it classy nude.

TLS: What can we expect to see from you in the future?

AB: I'm working on some collaborations with different amazing people and me and Hanna Antonsson  is opening a gallery in Limehouse, London this fall. Also some more photography project, probably more music and maybe something else. Who knows.

Follow Arvida Bystrom on her website.

Ritu Ghiya, a NYU "bb", is extremely passionate about surrealist literature, technology and experimental R+B. Her dream is to become the perfect blend of Solange and MIA on her existential journey to read more and blog more.