Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Visual Arts 2010

Fia Backström

A portrait of Fia Backstrom in front of a wood plank wall and a wooden box on her right. She has medium length blonde hair and wears a black long sleeved shirt and a blue scarf. On her lap, she holds a piece of paper with illegible writing.
  • Visual Artist
  • Born Åland Islands, Finland, 1970
  • Lives in New York, NY

The grant gave me the time and the freedom to focus on my work in a way not tied up to productivity, pressure, or economic institutions per se, which must be the best gift any artist can receive.

- Fia Backström, December 3, 2010

Biography

Fia Backström is an artist and an educator who works in a wide range of media, including writing, performance, installation, ephemera, audiovisual means, photography, and formats of display. Her practice occasionally incorporates works by other artists frequently and peers, visitors, and institutional staff alike are invited to participate.

With the support of her 2010 Grants to Artists, Backström presented The Worker Through the Ages at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm in 2010. Backström created an environment for The Worker Through the Ages that included paintings that represent proletarian culture and a print of a Swedish labor agreement. The artist hosted events in the space in which she addressed the audience and museum technicians and a curator performed their tasks. She has since presented work in the Venice Biennale (2011) and at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (2013).

Backström has shown works in international solo exhibitions at venues including Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2006); Marabouparken Annex, Stockholm (2007); White Columns, New York (2008); The Apartment, Vancouver (2009); and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2009). She had also participated in group exhibitions at the United Nations Plaza, Berlin (2007); Serptentine Gallery, London (2007); the Whitney Biennial (2008); and The Baltic, Newcastle, England (2009).

Backström studied at the University of Stockholm and Columbia University for her undergraduate studies, and received an M.F.A. from Konstfack University of College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm. Backström co-chairs the photography department at the Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts at Bard College. She also teaches in the M.F.A. program at the Columbia University School of the Arts and the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University.

Artist Statement

Luring language reigns rampant and generic, while iconoclastic moves on the image abound. I can't smoke you out, because smoking indoors is not permitted. This carpet of slipping senses, handy words for twisted meanings and cunning usage—a visceral occupation of territory for U.S. to inhabit. So Words, Don't Fail Me Now!

These are the bankrupt words of the undermined rhetoric no longer yours: a for agency, f for freedom, r for resistance.

Exceptions made for CO-rporations or your CO-operative spirit turning them into secret mantras for entertainment—a for Parisian model agence or f as in F U Calvin Klein far out signification. R as in rotten rhubarb pie, somehow anti-slogans enter the ads. Language development from think tank to focus group, finding selling words for a movement of merchandizing ideas. The right name is everything!

Cult action, group therapy, corporate brainwashed consumer combatants. Together we feel good. Crowd behavior: removing the inhibitions of the individual, no personal responsibility. Yet community is pressure. The formerly functional organization of pockets of activity, the dead-end possibility of the communist collective manifestations, the increasing sophistication of corporate communal outreach, the Hippie yearnings for the primal gathering, the "We-They identity" of exclusive clubs and gated communities, the projected goodness of "productive get-togethers" from the family to the national, the pretense of equality. Community as communication as co-appearance - - Stay Connected.

- December 2009

Two persons address an audience lined up against a wall, one holding a piece of paper and gesturing, while the other arranges a banner colored orange with illegible text draped over a table.
FCA-supported The Worker through the Ages, performance at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010.
Backstrom speaks to an audience lined against a wall while in front of her, a person sits before a sewing machine holding an orange banner or sheet of fabric in their lap.
FCA-supported The Worker through the Ages, performance at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010.
A person sits in front of a sewing machine holding up fabric while behind them one person works at a table and another carries a ladder, in a natural-lit room in which framed paintings are stacked on a red carrier against a gray wall.
FCA-supported The Worker through the Ages, performance at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010.
Backstrom glances down at a sheet of paper and stands beside a person sewing an orange banner while behind them, two persons hang framed paintings on a wall.
FCA-supported The Worker through the Ages, performance at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010.
Backstrom raises their right arm while reading from a sheet of paper in a room with two cut logs, two persons filming on a tripod, spectators sit against the right wall, a person sits before a sewing machine, and one person hanging framed paintings.
FCA-supported The Worker through the Ages, performance at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010.
Backstrom faces sideways and opens their mouth, behind them a person standing at a sewing table reaches downwards, two persons hang framed paintings, and in the distance a person stands near the windows and looks downwards.
FCA-supported The Worker through the Ages, performance at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2010.