Finnish artist Pilvi Takala (b. 1981) poses undercover, employing performative intervention to discern the unwritten rules of communities. Through active observation, Takala is able to quietly test the parameters of a situation; this experience and its repercussions form the basis of her works. Throughout, attention is drawn to the fragile nature of personal and collective boundaries. Takalas exhibition Second Shift at Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki
, is a survey of key works engaging with these themes.
Second Shift is a sociological term coined in the 1980s to describe the domestic and care work, performed primarily by women, in addition to their actual paid jobs; although today these issues are more commonly discussed in terms of emotional labour. For those who are expected to provide emotional labour it is a thankless job, work that goes largely unrecognised, unappreciated and uncompensated. As a title Second Shift also refers somewhat to Takalas artistic method, to the notion of working covertly, a double identity.
The act of defining takes on particular significance here as a means of giving weight to work that is not ascribed value within systems of capitalism. Recognising this as a form of labour further blurs the boundaries between work and not work, between valuable and not, between what we choose to give freely and what is expected of us. By invoking emotional labour, Takala is able to draw parallels between her own methods of working and emotion work, and also reciprocate this value giving.
In examining how we manage and uphold implicit rules and unspoken boundaries Takala opens up a space for renegotiation of what is deemed appropriate and why. Her practice demonstrates that it is often possible to learn about the implicit norms of social structures only through their disruption. By intervening in the usual order of things Takala makes visible the processes of negotiation itself, allowing us to consider the complexity of navigating supposedly simple social situations. We may witness involuntary reactions, or sense conflict between what is said and what is gestureda split second, a facial expression, a hesitation. To make visible the mechanics of negotiation is to see where and how people lay their boundaries, and ultimately how we may express consent with and without words.
Alongside existing works exhibition Second Shift presents two new video installations by Takala, The Stroker (2018) and Admirer (2018), which are featured in detail in the reader of the same name, published for the occasion by Kiasma in collaboration with Garret Publications.
Pilvi Takala (b. 1981, Helsinki) lives in Berlin and Helsinki. She graduated with an MA from Helsinkis Academy of Fine Arts in 2006. She received the Finnish State Prize for Visual Arts and Frieze Londons Emdash Award in 2013. This is Takalas first solo exhibition in a Finnish museum.