The Stroker is a two-channel video installation based on Takala’s two week-long intervention at Second Home, a trendy East London coworking space for young entrepreneurs and startups. During the intervention Takala posed as a wellness consultant named Nina Nieminen, the founder of cutting-edge company Personnel Touch who were allegedly employed by Second Home to provide touching services in the workplace. Nina strolled around Second Home being friendly to everyone, greeting and lightly touching people as she passed them by. It gets the office talking, workers gossip amongst themselves, visibly bonding over a common confusion – she was nicknamed ‘The Stroker’.
The responses of the ‘touchees’ varied widely, most were polite, but there were those whose body language registered a visible discomfort. Perhaps simply due to the cultural context of this invasion of personal space, or perhaps as a result of the inner conflict that arises when one does not feel able to truthfully or openly react. When unable to assert oneself this kind of embodied negotiation takes the place of words.
The nuances of movement demonstrate how people negotiate the dilemma of being mediated bodies under social pressure, and how such responses are controlled by the tacit conventions governing what is deemed to be ‘acceptable behaviour’. In the clear-walled, open-thinking space of The Stroker, we witness a physical negotiation of boundaries where there seemingly are none.
- Concept and Realization: Pilvi Takala
- Director of Photography: Katharina Dießner
- Sound Recording: Karl Laeufer, Luke David Harris
- Editing: Elisa Purfürst
- Sound Design: Christian Obermaier
- Choreographer & Performer: Emma Waltraud Howes
- Co-writer, Production Assistant: Iona Roisin
- Production Assistant: Amelie Befeldt
- Performers: Donna Celay, Hais Hassan, Laura Hemming-Lowe, Manos Koutsis, Matthew Moorhouse, Patricia Mories, Iona Roisin, Emma Waltraud Howes
Second Shift2018Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
All rights and contents of The Stroker by Pilvi Takala, belong solely to the artist.
Emma Waltraud Howes contributed to the process by recruiting/casting, training, and choreographing the performative elements of said project in preparation for filming, and acted as an on set mediator between the artist and the performers themselves.
Thanks: Sam Aldenton, Second Home staff and members, Carlos/Ishikawa / Vanessa Carlos, Helsinki Contemporary, Reetta Huhtanen, Hannes Bruun, Nicole Vögele, Stine Marie Jacobsen, Maria Pulli, Nina Yuen
Supported by AVEK / The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture, Finnish Institute in London, Koneen Säätiö, Second Home, Taike / Arts Promotion Centre Finland