Marcin Dudek: Too Close for Comfort

About This Project

The basement represents an underground training facility: where bodies, ideologies and cultures are formed. Where for a young man, everything is still possible.

In ‘Too Close for Comfort,’ what begins with semi-autobiographical research that traces lines from football subculture to organized crime, results in a rupture, forcing open a complex discussion about production, media and hooliganism. Marcin Dudek’s Anti-Readymade attitude is much more than an art world critique. It is an everyday agenda depicted in several previous projects, such as his construction of a workspace on a rooftop in East London (‘Screen House’, 2010) or unauthorized museum intervention ‘Exico’ (Portugal, 2011). It combats what Dudek refers to as ‘the corruption of skills,’ resisting urgency, mediated experience and the outsourcing of everything including critical analysis. Anti-Readymade might be synonymous with anti-mainstream. On the ground floor of the gallery, 6 still images of video documentation are reduced and sunk into spacious white borders. Each frame acts as the punctuation of a long morning: periods, commas and explanation marks that illuminate the complication of historical narratives. The economy of scale demands attention and refuses to do the hard work of reading in the viewer’s place. Empirical evidence becomes obscure and grainy as what is not shown becomes crucial to events that took place between 10:40:06 and 13:58:40 on October 17th 1997. On closer look, we see the day evolve from the provocation of presence to full out violence. We see bodies bound for a brutal collision; enforcement, resistance and battle as the crowd cheers. We see members of the Cracovia fan club, each in a leather jacket. The image is cropped so that they are all anonymous. The leather jackets are not purely archival. They reappear in the match, dangling from the ceiling, dissected and sewn into a sculpture of a punching bag. Is it to say we can now thump these faceless thugs? Or is a more cynical metaphor for government and corporate media beating down the silent majority: An angry nod to Lustration in Poland brought forward by a sterilizing dogmatization of football fans? Either way, the synthetic SM glare no longer feels accidental. Right and left start playing musical chairs. Both of their seats appear supported by rival visions of radical utopia. These are the same seats that so often become weapons in the stadium. Things become blurry. Hero and hooligan are no longer clear positions. While the game is going on upstairs, Dudek begins beneath the stadium and goes underground with the knowledge that transformation is never easy. Metal is collected. Political elements, material waste and cultural artifacts are welded on as weights and used for sport. A piece of the wall has been removed; the façade of established architecture cut off and edited as a violent historical run on gets interrupted. The weight being lifted is no longer on the barbell.