Business Outsider: Selected Works by Pilvi Takala, Artist-in-Residence in Aalto University
May 22 - August 21, 2018
An artist as part of the business environment. An innovation, or a provocation? For Pilvi Takala, saying yes to this idea marks the beginning for a collaborative process and ongoing negotiation, seen in her video works. She is acting in disguise–the approach shared by artists and business strategists. Collaboration is great and messy.
Mode of operation is different in each of her projects, but it’s crucial for Takala to maintain outsider’s position. When signing a contract for her earlier work Trainee, commissioned by Deloitte corporation through Kiasma museum, it was important for her not to be seen as the company’s “mascot”, and not to compromise on her art. She spent one month as a trainee "Johanna Takala" in the marketing department of Deloitte, where only few people knew the true nature of the project. The final work that Deloitte donated to Kiasma will be shown again at the museum this autumn, in the exhibition titled Second Shift.
Through sharing space with others, Takala brings into view something that would not be otherwise noticeable. Emotional labour of service providers is at the core of her interest in Workers’ Forum project. Curiosity led her into a community of people working as freelancers for a texting service in the United States; to be able to follow their conversations, she had to pass a test and become employed by the company. At the time of technological disruptions, when the gig economy is flourishing and standards of service are constantly raised while steady employment is rarely provided, there is no space for reflexion left anymore. Despite being paid very little, workers, whose task is to pretend they are someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend, justify their work as a hobby, feeling responsible for their clients.
Her approach in Give a Little Bit is close to ethnographic, where together with Amelie Befeld, they examined people’s behavior in a corporate career fair. To find “the right one” requires showing a bit of interest to many; in fact, this means exhausting emotional labour. Even in a supermarket, one has to make a little performance to get a free product sample. Work life is similar: you have to know how to behave in a workplace, and perform to get paid.
Takala says that outsider’s position of the artist is always privileged; her question is–could this experience be transferred further? Current work takes her to the School of Business in Aalto University, where Takala is looking into different ways of doing research.
Featured works :
The Trainee. Tax Department, 2008
The Trainee. Elevator, 2008
Workers' Forum, 2015. Animation by Animated Zeug. Supported by Helsinki Contemporary
Give a Little Bit, 2015. In collaboration with Amelie Befeldt, first shown in gallery Alkovi, Helsinki
Show invited by Ksenia Kaverina