The Trainee, 2008
Three videos with a duration of 13:52, powerpoint presentation, keycard, letter
The Trainee has been produced in collaboration with international accounting firm Deloitte. In order to realise the project, the artist worked for a month as trainee in the marketing department of Deloitte, where only few people knew the true nature of the project.
During the month long intervention an initially normal-seeming marketing trainee starts to apply peculiar working methods. Gradually she shifts from the position of someone others believe to be normal, to the object of avoidance and speculation. The videos and slideshow reveal a spectrum of ways of handling the odd member in a group. Sincere interest and bewildered amusement are juxtaposed with demands directed at the superior regarding the strangely behaving worker.
We see the trainee sitting at her workstation in the consultant’s open plan office space, or in the tax department library all day doing nothing. One of the videos shows her spending an entire day in an elevator. These acts or rather the absence of visible action slowly make the atmosphere around the trainee unbearable, forcing the colleagues to search for solutions and to come up with explanations for the situation.
Masking laziness in apparent activity and browsing Facebook during working hours belong to the acceptable behavioural patterns of a work community. However, sitting in front of an empty desk with your hands of your lap, just thinking, threatens the peace of the community and breaks the colleagues’ concentration. When there is no ready method of action, people initially resort to avoidance, which fails to set their mind at ease if the situation drags on.
What provokes people about this ‘non-doing’, aside from the strangeness, is the element of resistance. The non-doing person isn’t committed to any activity, so they have the potential for anything. It is non-doing that lacks a place in the general order of things, and thus it is a threat to order. It is easy to root out any ongoing anti-order activity, but the potential for anything is a continual stimulus without a solution.
Supported by Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art and the Finnish Cultural Foundation