OLEK: Wishes And Hopes For 2018

As we draw closer to the new year we’ve asked a very special guest every day to take a moment to reflect on 2017 and to tell us about one photograph that best captures the year for them. It’s an assortment of treats to surprise you with every day – to enjoy and contemplate as we all reflect on the year that has passed and conjure our hopes and wishes for 2018. This is our way of sharing the sweetness of the season and of saying ‘Thank You’ to each of you for inspiring us throughout the year.


Poland-born Brooklyn-residing crochet innovator OLEK devises and implicates and eradicates and constructs and executes abstract emotions and socio-politically charged strategies into her public performance pieces and installations in places as far-flung as India and Stockholm and Raleigh, North Carolina. Few fools are suffered, local volunteers are engaged, and heroicism seems always within reach as the crocheted crusader takes on issues of inequality, systemic-institutional bias, alienation, discrimination, immigration, the war machine, the refugees that are created by it, the psychic wounds created by it. Sometimes it feels like each day we get to see a different expression of OLEK’s heart and creativity in the public arena. Today she shares with us a chance encounter she had with two women this year and how it inspired her to have courage and to spread its message.


A conversation between Lama and Sarah:

Lama: When I saw them, I was really scared.
Sarah: I started thinking: “How did we do it?  How did we find the courage to do something like that?”
Lama: Do you think one of our vests might be there?
Sarah: I don’t know.
Lama: Can you imagine if one of them is ours?
Sarah: When I first saw them I felt the chills all over my body. I immediately remembered everything and felt that someone is thinking about us.

I met these two brave women while working on an exhibition in the Avesta Museum in Sweden. They have became a huge inspiration for my work and recently I’ve decided to shoot a documentary about their ability to create a new life in a strange country after being forced to flee their home in Syria. On September 18th, 2017 we took a train from Berlin to Stockholm, and this journey became the set for a dialog about their very difficult and dangerous trip. During our 2 hour stopover in Copenhagen, we decided to leave the train station and wander around the city. This is how we coincidently arrived at Ai Weiwei’s installation ‘Soleil Levant,’ created out of 3,500 life jackets.

With this image, I wish everyone in the upcoming year deep, resilient and unlimited courage. Courage to step outside of one’s comfort zone; Courage to start all over again if necessary; Courage to chase your dream; Courage to speak out; Courage to listen to your heart; Courage to succeed.

Olek. Lama and Sarah in front of Ai Weiwei’s installation ‘Soleil Levant’ created out of 3,500 life jackets, Copenhagen, Denmark, September 18th 2017. (photo courtesy of Olek)