Tony’s Gallery in London present “I do not expect to be a mother but I do expect to die alone”, the first UK solo exhibition by Polish-born, New York-based artist Olek. Renowned for her use of crocheted yarn as a medium both indoors and on the street, the artist has created a major installation and sculptural environment: a distinctive Olek-esque living quarters filled with domestic objects of all kinds. These, along with the gallery walls and floor, have been entirely covered in crochet.
Both playful and rich in metaphor, the brightly coloured work on display features multiple designs including Olek’s trademark camouflage motif. The omnipresence of explicit messages crocheted into the objects, are statements revealing her position as a female artist in an art world that is inclined to have sexist opinions. These text-based pieces replicate actual missives sent to the artist by SMS text messaging, immortalising intimate details of her past relationships. The viewer thus becomes witness to Olek’s personal history as she continues her exploration of modern day concerns, touching upon the themes of privacy, technology and communication.
For this exhibition, Olek has drawn inspiration from her experiences of living in the UK over the past few months and assimilating into British culture, as reflected in recent works such as her crocheted London black cab, a piece produced outside of Tony’s in November. The show’s title is a direct quote from I do not expect, an appliquéd blanket produced by Tracey Emin in 2002.
Her practice has the striking quality of presenting a double-edged approach whereby the initial impact is colorful, enchanting and almost cartoon-like and yet under this camouflaged skin lies a complex and subversive metaphor for the world as she sees it. She instigates a dialogue between fiction and reality by carefully playing with our ambivalent perception of her work.The performative nature of her work is an essential element within her practice, from the time-consuming and laborious act of crocheting on immense scales to her active and impromptu positioning of objects in the street as well as her use of participating performers who, dressed in crocheted suits, are part of her environments. This notion of performance instigates an interaction between the artist and viewer who inadvertently takes part in her work either by discovering her objects or by ultimately being positioned within her artistic context.
27/01 - 23/03