Gallery Steinsland Berliner (GSB) is pleased to present Cherry Picking, the first solo exhibition by Swedish photographer Arvida Byström (b. 1991) held at the gallery. On show is a collection of the artist’s distinctive photography which has received much acclaim and garnered her a considerable online following. Placing Byström’s work in a gallery space presents an opportunity to physically step into her otherwise virtual realm.
Arvida Byström has made her name as a challenger of the norms and presumed limitations that have long been ascribed to the female body. Her imagery is characterized by a style that reads as archetypically feminine, to a degree that appears to teeter on the edge of irony. This is juxtaposed with a disregard of the conventional rules for feminine depictions. There exists no censoring or lessening of the actual bodily presence. Body hair and fluids are treated by Byström as natural components in an otherwise objectively arranged setting. Continuing the legacy of earlier feminist artists such as Lynn Hershman and Cindy Sherman, Byström uses her own image to explore ideas concerning identity, sexuality and the conditions and consequences of visual mediums.
The exhibition is titled “Cherry Picking”, a nod not only to the symbolically sensuous fruit but to the act of willingly selecting, and disregarding, information in accordance with one’s own viewpoint. Cherry picking as a behavioural trait, expecting a personally curated view of the world, is today more common than not. The democratization of opinions and influence brought on by the internet’s advancement has tightened the collectively allowed margins for time or effort spent on deliberation, stances are to be taken immediately and are expected to be adhered to. An algorithmically directed feed is the obvious manifestation of these choices. Through them we construct, with varying degrees of awareness, the virtual milieu we encounter.
Arvida Byström grew up on the internet, neck and neck with the social media we now consider fundamental. The internet was for her a space where she was free to cultivate her personal and artistic expression while escaping the restrictions of the outside world. Byström knows the internet, through it she tailors her own world order with an astute and critical awareness. Cherry picking is a testament to this physical and virtual bilingualism. Still lifes consisting of fruits and flowers intermingle with treasures of the new world; smartphones, chargers and headphones. Pictures of testicles and lingerie-clad peaches conjure questions about what exactly deems a picture as sexual, offensive or natural. The cherry appears throughout as a reminder of a selective society as well as symbol of constructed femininity.