In The Stroker Pilvi Takala analyses working conditions and norms in open-space environments and raises the question of healthy, safe and well-adapted work environments. This video is based on Takala’s two week-long intervention at Second Home, a trendy coworking space for young entrepreneurs and start-ups. The Author poses as Nina Nieminen, a wellness consultant and founder of the cutting-edge company Personnel Touch.

Allegedly employed by Second Home to provide well-being services in this coworking space, Nina strolls around the place, greeting and lightly touching people as she passes them. Her unusual behaviour gets the office talking, and workers begin to gossip amongst themselves, visibly bonding over a common confusion – this is how she becomes nicknamed ‘The Stroker’.

As the European Pillar of Social Rights guarantees that workers have the right to a high level of protection of their health and safety at work, Takala’s video brings a fun twist to the discussion about safe working conditions, which are not only physical but can also be psychological. The question of personal space is raised in an environment where the lack of physical boundaries can put psychological pressure on workers. 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.

About the artist:

Born in 1981 in Helsinki, Pilvi Takala holds an MFA/BFA from the Academy of Fine Arts of Helsinki. In her site-specific interventions she questions invisible rules and unwritten laws of our society. Most recently, she has won the 2015 Akseli Gallen-Kallela Award and the 2013 State Prize For Visual Arts. The Stroker has also been nominated at the 2019 dokumentART Film Festival (Neubrandenburg, Germany) and at the BFI London Film Festival.