Interview Series: Crocheted Olek

I remember the strong feeling of surprise and excitement I felt when I first noticed one of Olek‘s mad colorful crocheted bikes in New York City. There was a point in early 2011 when you literally couldn’t walk in Nolita or the Lower East Side without finding a trace of her wild, hot pink thread – that’s when she was working non stop in her studio in the Financial District; our friend Marie-Joelle Parent interviewed her.

The artist has come a long way since she first set foot on American soil, and after a successful show with Jonathan LeVine gallery back in December, Olek is now featured in a solo show at Tony’s Gallery in London’s Shoreditch Triangle area. We had a chance to sit down with this fascinating character for a quick interview. Has she had sex in this room… yet? We’ll leave it up to you to inquire off the record, with a little help from a bottle of Polish vodka.

LF: Lots of sex talk all around. You said in other interviews you use emails you received and text messages and memories to build the quote library of your oeuvre. “I do not expect to be a mother but I do expect to die alone,” however, sounds like a synthesis of it all coming from a very personal space. Tell me a little bit about where you’re at in love and life.

OLEK: Life and Art are inseparable. I really do not do anything besides making art. And since I am new to London, and know like 5 people, i was able to isolate myself from the outside world. The whole month before the show at Tony’s I have been actually sleeping inside the gallery. So when I say  – come to see my show which is not just another apartment installation; it is the reflection of life, love, trust and lust in current times; It is the progression of my life as a woman, as a female artist put together through text messages, emails and personal objects and experiences… blood, sweat and tears and cum camouflaged with the sparkle of my colourful cheeky humour, as we all do when carrying on with our lives – it is really the truth.

LF: You started crocheting back in Poland and your artistic statement said you rediscovered crocheting when you moved to New York City. How did that happen?

OLEK: Crochet came to me as a result of being totally broke. I had to make a costume in NYC and I had no cash for a sewing machine. I used any materials I could possible find… I even cut my sheets into strips to make pieces. Being resourceful is in my blood as you can see. Crochet is for poor people… that’s why you can find it in almost any culture across the globe. I am just a tiny spider who walked at night in East London collecting items soon to be transformed into crocheted pieces.

LF: Tell me a little bit about your artistic process. Is it the actual exhibition space and found objects that inspires the work or is your art a reflection of your spirit of the moment, or both?

OLEK: It is all so mixed together that I cannot find the beginning of the thread.

LF: What were you glueing when we stopped by the gallery?

OLEK: Once a show is up, do you keep building and building on it, until it closes? Work is never done. I was working on an installation with London-based artist Malarky. Come back and experience it.

LF: What’s up with your few months of London turmoil. Are you excited to get back home? What did you learn in this process?

OLEK: I am happy I can travel and cover the world as I see fits. I will tell u what I’ve learned in mid September after my trial.

LF: What’s London’s best kept secret in your opinion, that you have uncovered during this trip?

OLEK: It is not a secret. I love Boris Bikes and Radian B. Food sucks and it might be the reason why people do not smile on the streets.

LF: If you could be born again in a different time, when would it be?

OLEK: I always wanted to hang out with Henri de Toulouse Lautrec.

LF: What’s your favorite color right now?

OLEK: I actually do not like colors. Maybe I do not even see them. That’s why I wear them all together or mix them up in my work.

LF: How fast do you live?

OLEK: Most kinds learn how to walk. I was running from the beginning.


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