Close Watch, 20221:08:13, three-channel video installation The work is accompanied by a book and a website
Close Watch takes a critical look at how power is exercised in public spaces through the private security industry. The multi-channel video installation is based on the artist’s experiences during her six-month employment and research while working covertly for Securitas as a fully qualified security guard in one of Finland’s largest shopping malls.
Security as a concept and industry defines much of our public space, with tasks in law enforcement increasingly outsourced to a global private security industry. Close Watch extends from Takala’s consistent interrogation of social structures. In this work the artist sheds light on an underpaid, undervalued and underregulated workforce in which guards must face ethical dilemmas to work responsibly in roles learned almost entirely on the job and passed down from senior colleagues.
Workplace culture prescribes the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. While collegial support is imperative, what if your colleague is the aggressor? When must you break ranks, and how? Close Watch looks at the way these quandaries play out and how what is tolerated is negotiated as the guards navigate their impact on society.
During a three-day workshop developed with and facilitated by a theatre pedagogue in the vein of participatory Forum Theatre that involves power dynamics, Takala with five ex-colleagues and three actors re-enacted past work situations derived from her field research. In testing out alternative responses to excessive use of force, racist language or toxic behaviour, they reflected on the roles and responsibilities of security personnel who exert power to maintain order.
The site-specific installation divides the space into two interrelated presentations in which the watcher and the watched are immersed in an active field of relations.
This work contains dramatisations and conversations around racism, profiling, discriminatory language, power fantasies, excessive use of force, the police, toxic masculinity, addiction and alcoholism.
Originally commissioned and produced by Frame Contemporary Art Finland for the Pavilion of Finland at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, in collaboration with Saastamoinen Foundation.
Curator: Christina Li Installation design: Studio L ADirector of Photography: Katharina DießnerEditor: Elisa PurfürstProject Consultant: Stine Marie JacobsenWorkshop Development: Pilvi Takala, Annukka ValoWorkshop Anti-Racism Consultant: Susheela DanielWorkshop facilitators: Reeta Annala, Annukka ValoActors: Reeta Annala, Mika Kiviniemi, Aleksi LankinenParticipants: Teppo Koskinen, Jere Rantala, Taha Sabbane, Jonna VälimäkiLine Producers: Danai Anagnostou, Elina Kukkonen, Iona RoisinProduction Assistant: Mikael SaukkoSet Designer: Julia JänttiAudio Engineer: Rasmus Pietilä, Sergei TaljaMake-up: Sara KilpeläinenGaffer: Santeri SiirtonenElectricians: Jaana Viertola, Joonas VohlakariTranslation: Aino Aksenja, Aleksi Mörttinen / Saga Vera, Iona RoisinAnimation: Jordana Maurer, Giorgio PoloniColourist: MoonrocketfilmsSound Editing: Christian ObermeierRetouching: Gunar MeinholdPost-Production Assistant: Amelie Befeldt, Paris Helene FurstMastering: Stefan Gohlke / Concept AV
Beta Viewers: Gilad Baram, Joni Barnard, Minna Henriksson, Reetta Huhtanen, Matida Jammeh, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Anthea Moys, Mire Mroué, Ahmed Al-Nawas, Melisa Salazar, Nastaran Tajeri-Foumani
Thanks: Hanna Arvela, Joni Barnard, Vanessa Carlos, Taru Elfving, Satu Herrala, Kari Holmström, Suvi Keskinen, Timo Korander, Hille Koskela, Jarmo Mikkonen, Marc Mori, Minna Partanen, Ana Patel, Maria Pulli, Hans Rosenström, Otto Tiuri, Sara Vallioja, Ellen Wettmark and those who wish to remain anonymous
Special thanks to Securitas.
Additional support: AVEK The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture, The Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike)
installation view, Close Watch, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, June – September, 2023, photo: Stefan Altenburger / Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunstinstallation view, Close Watch, Pavilion of Finland at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, April – November, 2022, photo: Ego Carmeni / Frame Contemporary Finland