We are happy to present Smile As If We Have Already Won, Miriam Bäckström’s third solo exhibition at Nils Stærk.
The title piece Smile As If We Have Already Won – a 12 meter long tapestry, occupies the gallery’s main space and divides the room diagonally. As it is possible to walk around the work and study it from the back, the motif’s negative becomes part of the total experience of the work.
The image is a single piece of woven fabric depicting an endlessly reflective mirror landscape in which three female figures pose covered in mirror fragments. The figures become visible as they reflect each other and mirror the space within the tapestry.
The tapestry does not tell a story, it has no centre, and cannot be viewed as a whole in one glance. It consists of mirroring pieces and reflections each of which establishes its own whole.
Bäckström’s point of departure for the tapestry and its characters was to produce an image without an image – an image in which everything is a reflection of something else and as such is entirely self-contained within its own surface. Bäckström comments on the work: ”When you look at her, she becomes like you and for the first time you see yourself, you talk to yourself, spend time with yourself. We call her Cookie. A cookie that remembers all of your actions – everything you say and everything you do.”
Since the video work Rebecka (2004), Bäckström has worked with fictive characters as both form and material. She has portrayed them in ongoing serial works such as Mirrors (2005 – ) and Negatives (2010 – ) and in the video works Kira Carpelan (2007), Who Am I? (2011), and Motherfucker (2013). The recurrent line ”We can meet in your character” can be read as the link between these pieces and in Bäckström’s works and texts in general.
In the ancient myth about Medusa, the hero Perseus uses his shield as a mirror to avoid the horrific monster’s lethal gaze, thus allowing him to decapitate her. Bäckström presents her characters similarly – as reflections. In doing so, she lets them show us our characters: their language, logic and drives.
A series of photographic works will be on display in the gallery’s second space, all from the series Negatives. These images are distorted to an extent that makes them almost unrecognisable. As in the tapestry, the positive and the negative images are woven together thus creating two versions of the same character which stand as opposites.
Negatives let us meet characters in a way that allows us more freedom than those depicted, who are endlessly striving for identification and recognition. It establishes a condition where the positive and the negative coexist and together create an elevated reality.
Miriam Bäckström (1967) lives and works in Stockholm.