Christopher Henry Gallery proudly presents Knitting is for Pus**, its first solo show of Polish-born New York-based artist Olek. Hundreds of miles of crocheted, weaved, and often recycled materials, forms, and spaces are the fabric from which the wild and occasionally functional structures of Olek’s fantasylands are born. Olek has, in essence, reassessed the readymades of Marcel Duchamp. The gallery will serve as the “home base” for Olek’s exhibit, a multi-media sculptural environment, featuring an entire room completely covered in crochet. Additionally, the viewers/participants may follow her threads out of the gallery using a map to discover new objects added weekly she has crocheted and intertwined throughout the neighborhoods of NOLITA and L.E.S.
Olek’s use of crochet has no relation to the world of craft, rather it is used as an alternative to other artistic mediums such as oil or acrylic on canvas. Its use can be interpreted as a metaphor for the complexity and interconnectedness of the body, its systems and psychology, and, in a broader sense, it can represent humanity itself. The connections are stronger as one fabric, as opposed to separate strands, but, if you cut one, the whole thing will fall apart. It also serves as a literal extension of the body, a second skin that can be stretched and reshaped. Olek’s use of crochet is not a feminist critique – her obsessive use of the medium, often denigrated as “women’s work”, combined with Olek’s recurring camouflage motif and the impressive scale of her projects, challenges traditional notions of gender, as she aggressively re-weaves the world as she sees fit. Common reactions to the work include “I wonder if this was all done by hand” from women, and “I wonder how big the crew was” from men. These dialogues, centered around performer, object and observer, stimulate an interplay that is the art. In a new series of text based works Olek contrasts the convenience and spontaneity of “txt msgs” to her time-consuming, laborious crochet, reevaluating the notions of privacy, communication, and technology while immortalizing the intense yet fleeting sentiments of modern relationships.
Due to the labor-intensive nature of her work, Olek often finds herself alone for hours and days… creating a desire to connect with other artists, thus collaborations are always a welcome opportunity. The 2nd floor exhibition Tied by the Yarn (Olek’s Collaborators), is a product of sweat, alcohol, arguments and friendship. Featured collaborators include: Johnny Ranger, for the SEIS MIL ANTENAS video series; with additional videos by Katie Shelly and Naomi White; photography by Emily Keegin, Alexandros Lambrovassilis and Naomi White; and sculpture by Vidal Centeno and Tristan Fitch.