Shaking Hands with Olek’s Crocheted Art

By Rachel Choi – 11 Comments

Have you seen Olek’s crocheted art yet? It is fun to look at and always puts a smile on my face when I see it. Yet, it always has me perplexed as to the meaning behind it. Previously I’m written about the Wall Street Bull with Crochet Cozy, but I’ve recently come across a new exhibit of Olek’s work. This display was on the streets of New York and is titled “Crocheted Grapefruit” based on an idea from Yoko Ono’s book.

The display is a set of people wearing crocheted bodysuits (yes, you read that right) that stick their hands through a canvas for others to shake. The display offers no explanation other than the words that are printed on the canvas, which say:

Drill a hole in a canvas and put your hand out from behind.
Receive your guests in that position.
Shake hands and converse with hands.

Feel free to read the full article and see more photos by DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro: Crocheted Hands Ready for a Shake at Wall Street Art Project

Also, here’s a video of last year’s 2010 Grapefruit exhibit, which is slightly different for this year’s exhibit:

What do you think of this art work? What do you think is the purpose of it?

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  1. Linda cee says:

    Well, I don’t know the purpose but you certainly have to appreciate the work that must have gone in it.

  2. Mary says:

    HAHA this gave me a good laugh. I have no clue what it means either, but it is sure fun to look at. I must admit that I might be a little creeped out if I walked by someone with a crocheted jumpsuit on.

  3. SoSaje says:

    Whoa! Were they slipstitched into those things?! Sure hope they were temperature appropriate for the weather that day. I love me some crochet, but that just looks uncomfortable!!

  4. This is interesting. There are a lot of messages in it. The end of the video shows other out of the ordinary crocheted items in the “weaving in and out” free art exhibition.

  5. Erin says:

    I like this. I would definitely want to shake their hands.

  6. dj says:

    ok now there is NO way i would get into those outfits. i have a fear of closed in tightness. funny outfits though. where do people find the time to crochet these ? wow they are talented
    thank you rachel for all you offer

  7. Daria says:

    I like it. I think the purpose is just art–and in this case, it’s living, breathing art that one can touch. I think its purpose is to help people open to different-ness. I love the stray ends that are sticking out everyone on the bodysuit. It looks like my work. Heehee.

  8. Cami says:

    Ooo, Rachel. You’re going to be sorry you asked what we thought it means after you read this long comment! 😉

    I think the work references the tenets of performance art in relation to fine art and craft.

    My friend has an MFA in Theatre and has shared with me her admiration for Yoko Ono, upon whom Olek based her work. Other than “tearing down the fourth wall” of theatre by asking for audience participation, my understanding is that Ono’s performance art pieces challenged the audience to take responsibility for the safety of the performer(s) and the audience.

    Being set in New York City, well, truthfully, people were probably pretty well aware that it was an art piece being made. However, is it safe to shake the hand of a complete stranger in NYC? Why exactly is this person completely covered in crochet? Who is inside of the suit? What is s/he hiding?

    The instruction to “drill a hole in the canvas” could be a reference to Dadaism. If “art” resides on a canvas, drill a hole through the canvas. Fine art has been elevated to such a high level, and much of it is left purposefully inaccessible. If the canvas represents fine art, drill a hole through that “glass ceiling” and “put your hand out from behind.”

    The hand is covered in crochet, which is, to me, the *perfect* medium. Crochet is super-accessible, easy, and inexpensive. Crochet could represent common folk. By substituting fine art for general elitism, the piece could be a comment on the common folk coming from behind, busting through elitism, and making connections by “receiving guests”. The shaking of hands and conversing with hands is peaceful and inclusive.

    We’re building a common folk army of peace & crochet! 🙂

    At the end of the day, the purpose of performance art is to usually to provoke conversation and critical thought. I just think it’s fun to read into things! 🙂

  9. packrat1 says:

    Rachel, thank you for sharing all these colorful and fun crochet ideas and art!

    Cami… read your comments, then realized I should have known it was you. 🙂 Insightful as always! Very interesting.

  10. Cami says:

    Ha! You’re too funny, packrat. 😀 I saw you were doing a traveling scarf and my blog buddy Pam had it a week ago. Small world, I guess. 🙂 XO!

  11. Mad =^..^= says:

    So much fun – but what’s up with sticking the hand thru the picture?

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