Visual Arts Past Faculty

Fia Backström

Fia Backström headshot

Photo courtesy Fia Backström


Fia Backström's work focuses on the fabric of our co-existence with and construction of subjectivity through the social life of images. Backström works with structures of political address, corporate logic, and pedagogical methods , destabilizing authorship and the semiotics of images. She uses exhibition as a format for these structures, while turning social situations into operative displays where methods and media are chosen according to the situation and theme. Her work unfolds via a wide range of media including language, marketing, propaganda, typography, broadsides, objects, and performance. Her environments, live events and projects challenge our habitual notions of what constitutes an exhibition – its institutional context, its dialogue with the audience, and even the works of art that are presented. Frequently works by other artists are incorporated, as well as peers, visitors and institutional staff alike, while she fluidly reworks the terms of engagement.

Fia Backström ’s work has been part of numerous institutional, international exhibitions and projects, including the Whitney Biennial in 2008, MoMA 2010 (both New York), The Baltic, 2009 (Newcastle), Tranzit 2008, (Prague), and Moderna Museet, 2010, (Stockholm). She has shown her work with numerous non-profit organizations, such as White Columns, Artist Space and the Kitchen, as well as with commercial galleries, such as Greene Naftali and Murray Guy in New York and Wilkinson Gallery in London. Among other places, she has performed in the Serpentine Gallery, London, and United Nations Plaza in Berlin, Madrid and Mexico. Backström represented Sweden in the Venice Biennale 2011. A monograph of her work was produced for this occasion. Her writings have been published in magazines such as Artforum, Art on Paper, Pacemaker and North Drive Press. She has received grants from Iaspis, Stockholm, Sweden; Cneai in Paris; and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York.

Backström came to Princeton in the spring semester of 2010. Apart form teaching at Princeton, Backström also teaches at the Columbia University MFA Graduate Department since 2008, and co-chairs the Milton Avery Bard MFA photography department. She has lectured widely on her work and been a visiting artist in schools such as NYU, Yale University, Rhode Island School of Design, PennU and MICA. Backström was born and brought up in Stockholm, Sweden and went to the University of Stockholm and Columbia University for undergraduate studies. Upon receiving her graduate degree from Konstfack Royal College of Arts and Crafts in Stockholm, Backström moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1997, but as it increasingly became a hipster magnet she has since relocated to another part of Brooklyn.