Pilvi Takala’s artistic practice centres on performative interventions. She tests the social norms that govern how various groups of people function together by exposing them to subtly disruptive situations. The three works being screened at the Video Space in the Berlinische Galerie and on the website of the museum address conditions in today’s work environment.
“The Stroker” (2018, 15 min.) restages Takala’s intervention in a trendy London co-working space used primarily by start-ups. Takala poses as a “wellness consultant”. She is extremely friendly towards the people working there, touching them slightly on the shoulder without being asked. Their reactions range from benign to uncomfortable or even outright rejection, with body language and exchanges between co-workers replacing direct verbal confrontation. In the glass architecture of this allegedly so laid-back new world of work, we witness how personal boundaries are negotiated.
“SLUSH” is a three-day event held in a party-like atmosphere that is designed to bring start-ups and investors together. In “If Your Heart Wants it (Remix)” (2020, 15 min.) Takala and her team document the proceedings and interact with participants. Takala probes the flamboyantly positive mindset and the neoliberal belief that success and failure depend entirely on individual commitment.
“Workers’ Forum” (2015, 6 min.) is an animated chat rooted in Takala’s experience as a micro-tasker in the United States. She worked for a service that charged users for sending them a message from a make-believe significant other. The video is based on conversations between on duty micro-taskers in a forum and shows that, despite working as dead-cheap labour for a system designed to downplay human connection, they act surprisingly empathetic.