Gabriela Pichler, Johan Lundborg & Pilvi Takala
The exhibitions expand on the broader themes of the ambiguous and complex; the conscious and subliminal; the subtle and explicit; and the sensible exploration of the human condition.
Both Pichler and Lundborg’s and Takala’s working methods are developed by closely observing human relationships and understanding different actions, affections, and gestures that might differ greatly from our own. Their interest in human behavior lies in delving into its darkest depths; like taking a fireball in the palm of one’s hand until it starts twitching and stinging and hurting.
What also ties the two exhibitions together is the artists common interest in observing the human condition in relation to the reproduction of labor. Pichler and Lundborg question the traditional forms of labor in post-industrial society, while Takala explores the shady features of new public management: the emotional and intellectual worth of labor in the knowledge economy of late capitalism.
In Pichler and Lundborg’s newly commissioned work — the site-specific video-installation Mechanical movements despite pain — the visitors encounter a kaleidoscopic display of the fragmented, blurred, and broken memories of Pichler’s childhood. A childhood spent playing in the factory where her mother worked, breaking her body.
Takala’s disobedience to labor, a silent protest to new public management efficiency, is shown by three video installations: The Trainee, The Stroker, and If your heart wants it (remix). Focusing on economic and social well-being, body glitches and fractions, collective spirit and the emotional investments of working together, Takala refuses doing anything but taking her disobedience to the extreme. In doing so, she starts being perceived as a social parasite, an intruder, an emotional disturber…or “the stroker”!
Relying on the emotional labor and the physical engagement of the visitors, the artists question our boundaries to other human beings. They may shake and turn our beliefs upside down and make us rethink the way we treat each other; and they may do so until such feelings start twitching and itching and making it very uncomfortable to sit in our own chairs and inhabiting our own bodies.
May they challenge us to behave and think in a more emphatic way about those who are less privileged and less visible; those whose labor our comfort has been built upon. May they provoke us to make fairer decisions once we are given the chance to do so. May they help us dare become “the strokers” of the given human condition.
Amila Puzić, curator at Röda Sten Konsthall