Mirrors: Miriam Bäckström

1 - 25 October 2009

They all carry with them a personal drama to which they invite each other, with great pleasure or violence. They do as characters should; they respond accurately to the images and projections offered, incapable of creating something else, incapable of change without exchange. They trust in development and improvement and their life is lack, a continuous wish for something better, someone else and something else, for what they believe they do not have, yet need. Their life is comparison, since they are convinced that everything can be compared and thus transformed into other currencies or materials; replaced, bought, sold. For them everything is interchangeable, also they themselves


Miriam Bäckström, September 2009
The personal identity does not exist, we are our relationships and the self is manifested in an interpersonal field. Psychoanalysis has also shifted from the early concept of a “one person psychology” towards an intersubjective “two person psychology”. What Freud assumed was a basic conflict between “the id”, “the ego” and “the super-ego” was viewed as a contradiction with a development within the human being.


During the post-war era, the object relations theory emerged which emphasized the importance of studying the human psyche as a social phenomenon. This meant that psychological suffering was no longer a result of an inherent conflict but rather of the child’s adaptation to its environment and its upholding of crucial ties to the parental objects. According to Stephan Mitchell, this was a dividing line in the history of psychoanalysis. His idea was that we are enclosed in relational fields or intersubjective matrixes. We don’t search relationships, as human beings we are constructed for relationships and cannot exist without them.


The human psyche thereby has a contextual nature and is affected in the constantly ongoing process of our current relationships. Even loneliness stands in relation to the context. Loneliness is experienced in relation to self image and the image of the surrounding world and it reflects both previous relationships and present interactions with others.


In other words, we are our own experiences manifested in psychological structures. We are rhizomatic and fleeting, in constant movement. We affect and are affected, encounters and relationships spill over into others and into each other. Small things, trivial matters and decisive moments are mirrored and reflected within and without our own selves.


Linus Elmés, August 2009


Since the mid-1990s, Miriam Bäckström has been one of the most influential artists in the contemporary art scene in Scandinavia. Her work focuses on the staging of life and on the shifts between what we call reality and fiction. In 1995 Miriam Bäckström started the project Set Constructions, a series of photographs depicting sets built for television productions, film commercials and feature films. Her documentations of staged presentations in museums, such as the IKEA museum in Älmhult and the museum apartments of the Stockholm City Museum, started in 1999 and include a photographic series entitled Museums, Collections and Reconstructions. Miriam Bäckström works with photography, text, sound and film. The unspoken and the implicit are strongly present in her works, where different realities often coexist in the same image. We can never be entirely sure of what we see in Miriam Bäckström’s motifs.


Miriam Bäckström participated in the 1999 Venice Biennale, curated by Harald Szeemann, and since then she has gained wide international recognition. Miriam Bäckström represented Sweden in the 2005 Venice Biennale, creating the installation Amplified Pavilion together with Carsten Höller in the Nordic Pavilion. She contributed to the publication Voice Over for this year’s Venice Biennale, an IASPIS project examining staging, theatricality and performative strategies . Miriam Bäckström´s contribution consisted of a text based on the characters in Mirrors.


‘Communication today is largely happening in the photographic image, in the still and moving image’, says Miriam Bäckström. For her film and theatre are meeting-places for the images we call reality.


Mirrors is a series initiated in 2005. This is the first exhibition to include a large number of the mirrors. The series presents a number of human characters from the past and the future, all surrounded by a round mirror, coloured or clear.

Installation Views