Pilvi Takala’s retrospective On Discomfort at Goldsmiths CCA charts her interventionist performance and video practice from 2007 to today, revealing how we can turn inwards, sitting with those uncomfortable feelings. The gallery’s basement has been compressed; a large, mirrored wall constricts the space. Close Watch (2022) is a three-channel video installation, first presented at the 59th Venice Biennale, exploring Takala’s six month stint working covertly as a security guard. I’m greeted by a recognisable ‘pop’, the notification sound from WhatsApp. A blown-up iPhone screen hangs from the wall, glowing, as a conversation unfolds: timestamped on 17 January 2020, a message from a contact called ‘Field Manager / Securitas’ with welcome instructions for Takala’s first day at Securitas, a private security company that provides services to shopping malls. Six months later, another message arrives: she’s been outed. Her colleagues have been googling her and discovered that she is in fact an artist who has been working undercover.
Dressed in uniform in a vacant office space, the security guards and Takala participate in a series of workshops to discuss various workplace incidents, from the casual cracking of racist jokes to a particular colleague who exhibits blackout rages, to reveal the network of power structures they can both reinforce and resist.