Close Watch, a newly commissioned video installation by Pilvi Takala, premieres at the Pavilion of Finland at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Commissioned and produced by Frame Contemporary Art Finland, the exhibition is curated by Christina Li.
The multi-channel installation is based on Takala’s experience in the private security industry, where she worked covertly as a fully qualified security guard for Securitas. The piece is centred on workshops she developed in response to issues encountered on the job during her six-month employment at one of Finland’s largest shopping malls.
Working undercover, staging social situations and infiltrating communities, Takala’s artistic practice exposes often-unspoken rules and norms in society. Exploring security as both a concept and an industry, Close Watch considers how it defines our public space and the behaviour tolerated within it.
"Workplace culture defines the boundaries of acceptable behaviour," Pilvi Takala explains. "As security guard, the role is learned almost entirely on the job, with norms and standards passed down from senior colleagues. In a high-stress environment, collegial support is essential, but what if your colleague is the aggressor? When is it necessary to break rank and how? I'm interested in how control is enforced by and within the private security industry, and how we ultimately govern each other's behaviour."
Takala's work attempts to unravel the thresholds separating our public and private spheres, underpinned by wider race, gender, and class politics.
The 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, titled The Milk of Dreams, will open to the public from Saturday April 23 to Sunday November 27, 2022, at the Giardini and the Arsenale; it will be curated by Cecilia Alemani and organised by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Roberto Cicutto. The Pre-opening will take place on April 20, 21 and 22; the Awards Ceremony and Inauguration will be held on 23 April 2022.