Olek and Yoko Ono Turn Me Into Art

Posted by The G on September 25, 2010 under Artsy Fartsy, Street Art, The G Spot | 6 Comments to Read

Photos by various artists.

G in a body suit crocheted by artist Olek.

On September 25, 2010, artist Olek provided me with one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had.  Yes, for those that read this site daily and see all the amazing things I am fortunate enough to take part in, that sounds unbelievable, but as you read on I will fill you in on some of the things I witnessed today.

10 days ago I checked out Olek’s really awesome exhibit “Knitting is for Pus****” at the Christopher Henry Gallery, which is still showing until October 17, 2010 and should not be missed, by the way.  I met Olek at the gallery and I had commented on how cool I thought the video installations are (that are being shown on the second level of the gallery) of people wearing bodysuits crocheted from head to toe that she designed and made.  She told me she’d let me know when the next performance would be and a few days later, she sent me the details:  performance to be held at the Brooklyn Art Fair.  I didn’t ask any questions and showed up at the agreed place and time.

Myself and 5 other performers were told the following:

– We had to leave our clothes (except underwear and shoes) and belongings behind [to be retrieved after the performance was over]

– We would be performing a piece from Yoko Ono’s book “Grapefruit” whereby we’d stand in various locations near the art fair – expressionless, with no talking.  We are allowed to communicate only by shaking hands (through a canvas) with anyone who came into contact with us.

– The performance would last for 4 hours.

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. from "Grapefruit" by Yoko Ono.

Olek crocheted our heads on (literally) and off we went.

Artist Olek crochets the head onto a performer.

After the jump, read my reflections of this performance.

Please remember that in a 4 hour period during a really busy arts and crafts fair situated near the Brooklyn Bridge, I probably encountered several thousand people.  Here are some of my observations.  Pictures will be coming soon.  I was unable to have my camera with me (and yes, it broke my heart, but rules are rules).

– It’s amazing how people will stare at anything that doesn’t look “normal.”

– Not having any belongings on my person and standing motionless on a crowded street was extremely freeing!

– Most people are total pricks!  People pointed at me, laughed at me, made silly comments about my outfit and tried to get me to talk even though my sign said “interaction only with hands.”

– Anyone wearing ridiculously big designer sunglasses thought they were too good to shake my hand.

– People of foreign decent were much more willing to shake hands than Americans!

– Kids LOVED shaking hands with me.

– A lot of people stopped to read the sign and then told me “I don’t get it.”

Every person that asked to take a photo with me shook my hand.

– The people that really understood what we were trying to accomplish with this performance were deeply moved and thanked me for doing the performance.  One lady was moved to tears which got me really choked up.

Here are some other observations:

– It wasn’t terribly hot in that costume (that was one of the most asked questions.)  I was standing in the sun, but there were spacious holes throughout the costume and I was only in my underwear!

– It was interesting to see how people shake hands – strong handshakes vs. appathetic ones.  Some people gave me eye contact whilst shaking and many did not.

– Most people walking by that were talking on cell phones did not bother to shake my hand.  A few people plugged into I-pods shook my hand.

– Some people had to think hard about whether or not to shake my hand.  In the end, most over-analyzers did not shake it.

– Little kids might be the only humans on this planet that are not totally screwed up!

As soon as I changed out of my costume, I was heading home when I noticed a little boy and his father whom had both shaken my hand earlier in the afternoon.  I approached the father and I said “I remember you and your son.  I shook your hand earlier today when I was wearing a crocheted body suit.”  He told me “Thank you so much for that.  It really made my son’s day.”  Truly amazing!

Based on some of the negative observations, I really hope people wake up from their golden slumbers!  It should not be such a weird request to want to have interaction with fellow human beings – whether in costume or without.  Yoko Ono created this experiment in the 1960’s, by the way.  Have we as a human race progressed any since then?

Thanks again to Olek for providing me with an experience that I’ll never forget!

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