London: Marcin Dudek
November 15 - December 20
Private View | Thursday 14 November 6-8pm
Edel Assanti is pleased to present Akumulator Marcin Dudek’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.
Over the past five years, Marcin Dudek has explored the materials, messages and political contexts of the stadium in an ongoing investigation of group behaviour and crowd control. The artist’s preoccupation with football hooliganism has autobiographical roots, retracing Dudek’s steps as a teenage member of Cracovia football fan club.
Akumulator shares its title with Dudek’s 2013 publication, which translates from Polish as “battery”. The book collated snapshots of underground DIY gyms in Poland, which Dudek sourced online via specialised forums where young people proudly post images of their adapted training facilities. Many of these gyms are created in shared residential spaces. Some of them are formed in squatted areas which are transformed into fight clubs. The equipment is made from whatever materials are available: steel, wood, concrete, bricks.
Dudek expands his project in Akumulator by constructing his own immersive DIY gym. Like the spaces that inspired its creation, Dudek’s installation is made using rudimentary materials that convey scarcity, utility and urgency – a combination of found materials and adapted personal belongings. Every aspect of the installation harbours echoes of the artist’s past: the unit’s proportions are determined by the dimensions of a real basement in one of the Krakow Podgorze district’s council estates, where Dudek grew up. The door to the installation was sourced from the basement of his childhood block of flats – a standard issue council house door from the 1970s.
Each corner of the room is occupied by an abstracted DIY gym apparatus. The bench press’ weights are made from sections of a dismembered old radiator, attached to a welded metal bar. The bench rests on a carpet, woven by the artist using black cloth tape in a design recalling the faux-oriental patterns that adorned domestic carpets popular in Poland in the era of Dudek’s childhood. The deflated punch bag is made of Dudek’s old leather jacket; its contents have spilled out on the floor beneath it – on close inspection they are revealed to be shredded football fanzines mixed with clippings of issues of Great Painters, a publication that inspired Dudek’s transition from a teenage football hooligan to an artist.
The restricted proportions of the room evoke a prison cell, where several of Dudek’s childhood companions ended up. An imposing monumental collage made from cloth tape acts as the rear wall of the space: viewable from the outside, its sprawling geometry resembles a map of an underground network, or escape route. It is no coincidence that this collage’s composition took inspiration from Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s imaginary prisons (Carceri d’Invenzione, 1745-50).
A tense atmosphere of solitary self-transformation and violence pervades the work – at once a time capsule and functional training facility stripped down to the essentials, where bodies, ideologies and cultures take shape, ready for confrontation above ground on the streets.
Marcin Dudek studied at the University of Art Mozarteum, Salzburg, and Central Saint Martins, London, graduating in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Dudek has exhibited internationally at venues including Wroclaw Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Kunstlerhaus, Salzburg, the Arad Art Museum and the Goethe Institute, Kiev. His installation The Cathedral of Human Labor, 2013, is on permanent view at the Verbeke Foundation in Antwerp, and his installation Giochi Senza Frontiere was part of Manifesta 12’s collateral programme. Dudek lives and works in Brussels.