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Follow Up: The OLEK Saga Unwinds

MLK, ala Olek, autobio is not for pussies.


...and it’s a nightmare!

The way Olek tells the story on her blog:

  • First a big drunken asshole sexually harasses her.
  • Rebuffed, he taunts her obscenely.
  • Doused with her wine, he threatens her.
  • Then when she strikes out in fear  (um, admittedly, she punched him in the face while holding her wine glass…) she’s arrested.
  • Then they drum up charges based on her carrying a small scissors that, as we all know she uses for her work. (I mean, like: duh!)
  • Then she gets strip searched and harassed some more.
  • Then THEY CONVICT HER and make her wait forever for her sentencing.

Meantime she’s in a foreign country where she has no connections and does not know the rules; her english is not top-notch;  they put her in holding for three days; and she can’t call anyone because she doesn’t remember anyone’s telephone number by heart.

She also could not talk to the press, could not defend her good name, could not make clear how badly she needed help, nor explain exactly what her justifications were.

Her sentencing has now been moved to November 15th.

What’s the take away? When in England, never make a huge drunk angry no matter how angry he makes you. If he threatens you, wait till he takes his weapon out and messes you up. And put your glass down; it’s all fun and games until someone puts an eye out.

Read her harrowing tale and reach out to her here.

Fun Fun Friday

Olek: UNorthodox

“I do not expect to be a mother but I do expect to die alone” 27th January – 23rd March 2012

Congrats to Olek for inadvertently offending readers of Haolam Hacharedi,  an orthodox Jewish magazine which pulled issues containing a review of the artist’s latest coup off stands. Apparently when they decided to review Olek’s show at Tony’s Gallery in London, they were unprepared for the photographic contents of Olek’s texty wall weavings which contain intimate messages from the artist’s own mailbox, many of them of a sexual nature.

Isn’t that all men care about? Text, I mean.

Emergency measures were taken as head of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations in London, Rabbi Padwa, knocked out a dictum forbidding sale of the issue.

Read on JR: Orthodox magazine in porn shock
By Nathalie Rothschild, February 16, 2012


Art Trends:


Postmodern denial of authorship
Burying big things
Text (see above)
Juicy Colors and Subjects
Critic Art
Ugly Ass Biomorphic Stuff
Arrested Developement Nyah-Nyah Art


Solidly in the WTF Category

The Press Release says: “THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART PRESENTS THE FIRST LIVE RETROSPECTIVE OF THE ELECTRONIC MUSIC PIONEERS KRAFTWERK” and promises “Entire Repertoire of Eight Conceptual Albums Performed Live Over Eight Consecutive Evenings from April 10 to 17.”

The evening will be comprised of the albums performed in chronological order along with “elaborate staging” “3D images” and (shiver) “new improvisations.”

In case you’re a nostalgic baby boomer or a young technophile:
Tickets are $25.00 and will go on sale to the public on Wednesday, February 22, at 12:00 p.m., only at Space is limited. There is a two-ticket limit per person for the series, with each individual order limited to one transaction. Tickets will be distributed exclusively via will call, with photo ID required.

Olek’s Appeal Verified by My Interview with Jonathan LeVine


“The charges are not that serious. In NY it would have been a really minor incident.”

When I decided to phone the Jonathan LeVine gallery which represents Olek, I knew that they would have been fielding calls all day. Since word had gone live via the Jerry Saltz page on Facebook, three or four articles, including my own, had hit the air overnight. But Jonathan LeVine took my call. It felt good to have an opportunity once and for all to clear up all the doubt, and also to learn where Olek’s representation was in all this.

What follows is a transcript of our phone conversation:

TAM: Did Olek call you right away after the incident happened?
JL: I think I learned about it pretty quickly after it happened. After she got out of jail.

TAM: So when she called you, was she distraught?
JL: No I haven’t spoken to her on the phone. It’s all through e-mail.

TAM: Oh. Hmmm. I see. So you’ve never spoken to her on the phone.
JL: No, I haven’t spoken to her on the phone.But we’re in contact with her all the time. We just represented her in a fair. I mean, she just signed a bunch of prints for us so it’s — it’s definitely her that I’m in contact with if that’s the question.

TAM: [Laughing]Yeah, well that is DEFinitely the question.”
JL: [Laughing] Well it’s definitely her.

TAM: It’s the question that’s on top of everybody’s minds.
JL: This isn’t a hoax. I mean it’s legitimate. And she doesn’t have money and it’s very expensive to deal with the attorney.

TAM: Right. But people are confused, like about how she was able to set up that page which they think looks very elaborate — it has a bunch of links for PayPal and stuff like that— Did anyone advise her that this might not look good?
JL: Well, initially — this conversation was going on for a while– and her attorney was saying that maybe — she shouldn’t say much about it. So her attorney advised her not to  do it. But she didn’t have any other way so her attorney said okay you can do this.

TAM: Do you have any details of her case that she’s not put online?
JL: No. I mean I can’t say anything. I can’ t say anything more than she said about it.

TAM: So you KNOW more you just can’t SAY more.
JL: That’s correct.

TAM: So you are clear about the incident and how it linked to her arrest.
JL: Yes. Yes I am. As a matter of fact I helped her find her attorney through some of my contacts in England.

TAM: So is there a fundraiser maybe coming up?
JL: You know hadn’t actually thought about that. Because this thing initially–we weren’t supposed to talk about it so– it wasn’t even until last night that she posted it.

She was debating about whether she was going to make it live or not. So I guess it went live last night. I come in today and have a whole bunch of people calling me.

TAM: Well it went live last night because it kind of went live on Jerry Saltz’s page.
JL: Yes. That’s right.

I think we’re probably going to give it a couple more days. You know. See what goes on   before I start talking about that–because it just went live and I want to see what happens. And also we need time for a little organization to put togther a fundrasier. I’m not opposed to it at all. Someone asked about it on Facebook and I hadn’t really thouhyt about it all because this all just happened [snaps fingrs] just like that.

I’m just going on the advice of what she tells me to do and what her attorney is telling her to do.

TAM: Right. Well, just now I e-mailed her and she just said I’m tired of this and if people don’t believe me then they can’t help me. But I really think that people are so used to being scammed and this sounds so much like a million of them.
JL: Sure.

TAM: Really and people can’t help but want the details.
JL: Sure….

TAM: And they also want to know who they’re defending.  I mean if the charges are that serious…you know then—
JL: I don’t think that the charges are that serious…but I just think that she was just treated in a certain way.

And in New York, I feel that it would have been a really minor incident. And for whatever reason it turned into something bigger than maybe it should have.

TAM: Wow. That’s horrible for her.
JL: It is. It is pretty horrible. It’s kind of a messed up situation. I really — I don’t  want to say too much because I can’t.

TAM: Right okay… is there anything else, when I write this story up, that you’d like to put out there to clear things up?
JL: “I would just say that it’s legitimate. And she’s just in a situation that’s unfortunate. I guess what happened is she didn’t have any contacts there and so she didn’t have an attorney to call and she didn’t have money for that either so I guess she just ended up with just what was given to her.

TAM: So why didn’t she have any contacts? Is Olek that much of a loner?
JL: Well, if you’re in England and you get arrested…and she lives in the US she’s Polish. I don’t even know if she’s been there before. She doesn’t know a lot of people there. And at first maybe she thought is wasn’t going to be that serious either.

TAM: Right. And did they take her cell phone away?”
JL:  I don’ know what they did. I don’t know anything about getting arrested in England.

I can’t really speak for her because I didn’t ask her any of these questions. I didn’t like interrogate her to see what the hell happened. You know it’s more like ‘this is what happened, this is the situation’  ‘oh okay ’ —So I immediately contacted somebody that I know that helped her find a suitable attorney.

TAM: Right I see.
JL: And that’s where she’s at right now

TAM: Well, Jonathan, thank you so much. This has actually cleared up — well, a LITTLE bit …[laughing] it’s still a mystery.
JL: I’m sorry I can’t give you any more information. But I can say that it s legitimate. I can say that here it would have been something minor but –you know– she got a bad attorney and now she is in a situation.

TAM: And is it safe to say that you’re still talking to her about this and about when you can release information?
JL: Yes. Absolutely.


The Jonathan LeVine Gallery has posted Olek’s appeal on its site

Updates Regarding Charges and Trial Date



DATE: Saturday, July 23rd
TIME: 6 – 9 PM

NARS GALLEY • 88 35th Street, 3rd Floor, Brooklyn NY 11232

Steffi Homa
Nancy Drew
Kikuko Tanaka

Civilization protects us, unifies our efforts, and broadens our perspectives. It provides protection as well as the comforts afforded by a shared history and the developments of science. And yet, as Freud pointed out in his seminal work, the price we pay to be a part of civilization is often more than our spirits can bear without resistance or resentment.

With dada, Pop art, appropriation, and minimalism, artists found ways to stand in the margins of society, and to make images that defied its restrictions while leveraging its iconography. Stepping out of the space cleared by these past genres, new artists are looking into even more extreme methods of breaking free, not only borrowing from the trappings of our civilized world, its symbols, memes and ceremonies, and advertisements, but also treating meaning itself as material for color, texture and mood.

These artists create a new aesthetic that works because it defies context in favor of pure form and free association.

The artists in this show will present works that are simultaneously loaded with insinuation and free of meaning. Breaking away from the constrictions that are entailed by “making sense,” this new art can make bold with the aesthetic joys that came to civilization at a great price. They come off, therefore, as audacious and rude, like children taunting the librarian.

Because they harken to familiarity without the price of full understanding, and they wink at cultural constructs that “look” like those that are usually loaded with meaning, they can play with “originality” and create “inspiration” seemingly by sheer hap.

Color can be arbitrary, or evocative without ties to any coherent plot or meaning. Rythyms and symbols, borrowed at random can be collaged together to produce a mood or a feeling of meaning that is all the more ecstatic for breaking free of the rules.

If you’ve ever worn a T-shirt from a place you’ve never been, or felt elated by a song the language of which you did not understand, or dared to display a button for its color without paying mind to what it says, then you get it.


The Five Artists

Stephanie Homa: A young East german-born British artist working mostly with paint, Homa’s imagery and playful sense of humor are definitely on the cutting edge of micropop with its freewheeling use of borrowed and salvaged cultural symbols.

Says Steff of her own work:
“The playful spirit displayed in my work reflects the personal playground of a wild and sloppy mind where I set the rules. I reject restrictions and conventions so that my work drifts between evolving and dissolving its own concept and philosophy – resulting in an everchanging hologram of curiosity.”

Nancy Drew: A seasoned artist of note, Nancy Drew was represented by Roebling Hall in its heyday, and was included in Open House: Brooklyn Art Today at the Brooklyn Museum.

She has recently embarked on a series of paintings remarking on celebrity and time, and female iconography. Simultaneously, Drew is still continuing to playi with pornography, celebrating the theatrics, the beauty and the thrill of the genre. 

Growing up in an Ab Ex world, Drew takes advantage of a language of gesture and form that belongs to that male dominated genre, but she decorates her paintings with glitter and softens them with flocking, producing images that are at once bold and feminine.

VanillaRoyal: VanillaRoyal uses fetish and fantasy iconography, playing them off of each other in an attempt to jog the mind free of easy and habitual associations. The visual language in fetish and fantasy genres is built with motifs that are deceptively simple, while loaded with existential meaning. Both fetish and fantasy have a dominant iconography that is extreme and colorful, and that plays with polarities like good and evil, dominant and subordinate.

By manipulating the similarities and the tensions between these extremes, VanillaRoyal manages to create dreamlike scenarios that address sexuality vs. childhood, freedom vs. enslavement, joy vs. pain — giving the viewer a world of ice cream and chains. At once charming and threatening, these polarities conjure disturbing dialog.

Olek: Olek’s by now famous crochet art has become a meme of its own. Speaking as much to labor and to effort as to time and process, Olek’s objects, performances, and video are instantly and universally understood and empathized with.

Says Olek,  “With a miner’s work ethic, I long to delve deeper and deeper into my investigations. My art was a development that took me away from industrial, close-minded Silesia, Poland. It has always sought to bring color and life, energy, and surprise to the living space. My goal is to produce new work and share it with the public. I intend to take advantage of living in NYC with various neighborhoods and, with my actions, create a feedback to the economic and social reality in our community.

Kikuko Tanaka: An ambitious painter, sculptor and performance artist in the mold of Matthew Barney, Kikuko Tanaka’s work plays with psychological, socio-historic, and pop references (From Disney to Dostoyevsky!) using them to defy traditional story-telling and the tired and unquestioned values embedded therein.

Says Tanaka:  “I follow my whims and impulses. I also borrow some motifs from existing literature and artworks, both to express my empathy toward them and to take pleasure in deconstructing them within my context. Most of the time, I’m trying to make bad jokes through my work.”

NARS (New York Art Residency & Studios Foundation) presents its first every Emerging Curator Project Show, with Civilization and its Discontents, a show by 2011 selected curator Cat Weaver.

Civilization and its Discontents: July 23 – August 28th
Gallery Hours:
Wednesday – Friday: 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Saturday – Sunday: by appointment between 12:00pm – 6:00pm
  Please call the NARS office to set up an appointment at 718-768-2765.

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