Through the Mirror


4 June-11 September 2022

Arvida Byström, Kristina Abelli Elander, Malin Griffiths & Tove Kjellmark

In Through the Mirror, the summer exhibition at Konsthallen artists Arvida Byström, Kristina Abelli Elander, Malin Griffiths and Tove Kjellmark reflect on such concepts as body, identity, self-images and alter egos based on their own experiences and focal points.

In recent decades many women artists have worked at expressing and reflecting themselves and their times based on their own principles rather than those of the world. Today, the new digital media have become an important part of this process, something that the exhibition shows via a playful approach to the subject. Through the media of painting, drawing, orography, film, sculpture and the new digital techniques such as NTFs the exhibition includes examples from the punky feminist expression of the 1980s up until today’s internet-based art.

Digital techniques and platforms have revolutionized how we present ourselves in social media and have given us possibilities of multiple identities, something that also reflects itself in art. Digital technology makes it possible – and facilitates – performative productions, something that Arvida Byström uses in her photographs and her flow of instagrams. Tove Kjellmark creates hybrid sculptures in which new digital techniques and craft fuse. Kristina Abelli Elander has roots in the rebellious feminist art scene of the 1980s and she is showing both older pieces as well as new, collectively created art videos.

Fashion, appearance and clothing in general stage our outer persona. The artistic ego and identity are often shaped within the family as well as the social norms applying at the time. Malin Griffiths’ staged photographs portray members of a family who exchange identities. They put on masks only, at the next instant, to throw them away in works that reflect both change, memory and the passage of life. The world is a stage in a state of constant change and on which we create shifting and exchangeable masks of our own personalities with new tools and greater awareness.

Arvida Byström (b. 1991) is a multidisciplinary artist who, while still in her teens, began to interest herself in photography and to publish images on social media where she became something of a model for a younger generation that creates its identity and self-image on social media. Employing a hyper-feminine “girly” aesthetic she expressed herself primarily through photographs, film and performance, but she has also worked as a model and she composes her own music. Themes that she principally addresses are matters of identity, bodily perception and social dynamics in relation to new media. Her visual images interpret and challenge visual languages and the norms that are reinforced by means of virtual, commercial and social interaction.

Arvida Byström also works with creating her images via new digital techniques, so-called NFTs (non-fungible tokens). She has been active in Sweden and other countries and has been published in international press, as well as working with significant brands. Her work shows that digital influence is becoming all the more important in contemporary art.

Kristina Abelli Elander (b. 1952) has a background in women’s rights and other protest movements in the 1970s and 1980s and her early work was focused on contention about gender ideals of the time. Shown in the exhibition are punky cartoon-like paintings from the late 1970s in which we encounter Superbruden [Superbride]and other alter-egos that she constantly works with in her art. Kristina Abelli Elander has also worked with spatial installations, murals, drawings and figures in ceramics and textiles. She uses bold colours with the simplifications that belong to cartoon imagery, and an aesthetically drastic imagery that is related to Swedish artists Carl Johan De Geer and Marie-Louise Ekman. In the exhibition she also shows more recent video films of the group Alice & the Aliens.

Malin Griffiths works primarily with staged photography in which images of herself and her family often appear in a comic strip called Dogwalk. The visual images portray scenes in which people exchange identities – masks to be put on and taken off. Within the family identities develop. We are shaped together and a changing interplay develops between us. Masks/identities have been tried out only to be thrown away at the next moment. The world is a stage that we, too, have to contend with.

Malin Griffiths also relates her visual images to the irresistible march of time, the cycles of life, the memories, and the important events in a person’s life. Years, minutes and seconds that impinge on us and constantly remind us of our existence. Fashion which is a changing sign of the times is an aspect that she likes to address. Clothes are dead things, but when they are draped over bodies they achieve instant life and the performance can begin.

Tove Kjellmark (b.1977) is interested in people’s inner lives in relation to the body and its relation to space. She originally trained as a sculptor and she has developed a many-sided and experimental praxis in which she moves freely between a variety of different media and materials. Her work is both physical and conceptual and it occupies the glitch between digital and organic, past and future.

She often makes use of her own body as a tool in combination with her homemade machines featuring advanced technology in which she examines the relationship between motion and a static state. Tove Kjellmark has created Technoanimalism as her signum and, in media contexts, she has demanded a modern, feminine Dr. Frankenstein. She claims herself to be seeking a different nature in which the difference between nature and technology ceases to be, and therewith creates it once more.

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