When we snapped a photo earlier this month of a candy-colored crocheted bike cover on Essex St. early this month, we had no idea how deep the rabbit hole went. Instead of just being another patch in the quilt of New York City’s random ephemera, we found another version of this bike existed on Elizabeth Street, and we were far from the first people to “discover” the street installation artist Olek. Combing both performance art (Olek creates her pieces in public spaces, albeit wearing a crocheted mask) and an unusual medium (this ain’t your grandma’s craft activity!), the Polish born artist has created pieces that are merge the cultural landscape with the ephemeral. So while her bikes may be unraveling on the street, Olek isn’t worried, as she considers it part of the natural disintegration process of anything in the city.
Last night Olek created a new bike at the Third Streaming art space in Soho; diligently crocheting together her pre-made fabric (she created the larger pieces herself before the show and then hooked and needled them onto the bike) while people stood around, snapping pictures.
So why the mask, the secrecy? Does Olek not want people to know who is behind her work? Not exactly: She just doesn’t want to be bothered while creating, and was more than happy to speak to fans after the show, where she removed her hood. She was unaware of her recent feature in the New York Times City Room blog, but was happy for the press. “I try not to go ‘Oh that was me!’ when I see people put up my work on the Internet, but if my friends point it out, I am not trying to keep it a secret.”
Hopefully not, because we have a feeling that Olek and her bikes are about to blow up.