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Crocheted Hands Ready for a Shake at Wall Street Art Project

By Julie Shapiro | June 20, 2011 4:55pm | Updated on June 21, 2011 7:18am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Wall Street has never seen a handshake like this.

On Monday, performers clad from head to toe in colorfully crocheted bodysuits extended their yarn-covered hands to anyone and everyone walking near Wall Street and Bowling Green.

Each performer's hand protruded through a white canvas, which explained the project's mission via a quote from Yoko Ono's 1964 performance-art manual, "Grapefruit":

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.

The idea of enacting Ono's piece now came from crochet artist Olek, who put her own spin on it by adding yarn costumes. The resulting Olek piece, called "Crocheted Grapefruit," features 10 performers who stand silently behind their yarn and canvas, offering no explanation save their outstretched hand.

A yarn hand reached through canvas as part of artist Olek's new performance piece.
A yarn hand reached through canvas as part of artist Olek's new performance piece.
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DNAinfo/Julie Shapiro

"I felt like [Ono] wrote it just for me to do it," Olek said as she photographed the installation in action Monday afternoon. "In my work, interaction is very important. You start out standing there; you're an observer. The moment you shake the hand, you become a performer."

The piece launched on Sunday afternoon in Times Square and moved to the Financial District Monday before heading to Grand Central on Tuesday.

Most of the people who passed the multicolored yarn hands Monday afternoon slowed down to get a closer look and then continued walking.

But many, from children on vacation to locals who were passing by, stopped to shake the fuzzy hands, some adding fist bumps or asking the performers if they were hot under all that yarn.

"It's a little weird, but cool," said Marshall Mastrangelo, 18, a Bronx resident, after shaking hands with a performer near Wall Street and Broadway.

Karina Mejia, 22, a New Jersey resident, said she didn't totally understand the piece, but that didn't bother her.

"It's beautiful," she said. "I see it as a painting coming to life and speaking for itself."

Olek said she purposely did not provide a more explicit explanation of the performance art.

"I want people to find their own interpretation of it," she said.

The final performance of "Crocheted Grapefruit" will take place at Grand Central on Tuesday afternoon, from 2 to 5 p.m.