Last year, I interviewed Finnish artist Pilvi Takala (Helsinki 1981), just months before she won the prestigious Prix de Rome. Recently I stumbled upon her site. And took a look at her other work, and I was fascinated. Again.
A lot of Takala’s work is based upon intentionally embarassing performances in public spaces. Like candid camera. Armed with hidden camera’s she positions herself in absurd, impossible situations, and captures othes people’s reactions to her shennanigans. By doing this, her art seems to be playing a game with understandable, human, everyday reactions to absurd, and dreamy situations.
Every little girl it seems, at one point in her life, wants to dress up like a princess. Like Snow White. Talaka is no different. In her performance Real snow white (2009) she dons the iconic Disney outfit, and tries to enter the heavily monitored site op Disneyland Paris. She gets stormed by hordes of childeren, securityguards arrive, and demand that she leave the site immediately. Because she is a ‘fake’ Snow White. Not the real one.
In Players (2010) Takala delves into the world of online internet poker. To my amazement, I have met several people, some considerably younger than me, who make a lot of money playing the game online, on sites like partypoker. Playing the game only a few hours a day, and able to spend huge amounts of money whenever they were offline. I was always envious of that lifestyle.
Takala was equally fascinated by this phenomenon, and for her artwork she delved into the world of a group of (lagerly) Scandinavian guys living in the Aziatic paradise of Bangkok, who are all fanatically committed to the game. Turning every aspect of their lives into a hilarious gamble.
Sometimes, her work evokes a sense of threat. Like Angels, in which Takala, while dressed in a reassuring black tuxedo tries to act as a guardian angel, ‘protecting’ the shoppers in a crowded mall. Picking up items that they have dropped, and placing them back in into their bags, or closely watching customers as they consider buying an item. Ready to help at the drop of a dime, but in doing so, always being percieved as a threat.
In Takala’s world, live is a game. An often absurd game. But one that invites us to play regardless, in any way we choose.