The final work in the Passage series is its most diffuse. Swathes of white primer applied with Dudek’s fingers and hands lend emotional volume to the work. Here a single jacket has become many: they emerge as diaphanous clouds or smeared and spread as they take flight in wing-shaped silhouettes. The gesture of arms reaching up in joy, defiance, or surrender evoke bodies cheering or embracing. Catenae of orange bodies contrast with the more rigid, black lines toward the bottom of the frame suggesting stadium fencing or perhaps a prison trammel. Elsewhere is a birds-eye view of stands dotted with crowds as well as a scrubbed-out list of Polish soccer clubs that blurs the line between friend and foe.
Images come in and out of focus, as certain elements are sanded away or omitted, creating a transparent quality which plunges us into the inferior layers. Just as traumatic memories can either be extremely vivid and true to history or reinterpreted and replaced with a modified version, lines and forms in the work are hyper detailed, before sometimes disappearing and mutating. Fear, aggression, and adrenaline sand away reality. Several moments blend together, as we slip into the memory of memories rather than into clear recollections. The struggle to remember, reconstruct, and reconciliate oneself with one’s own past, which we have fought to overcome, lends itself to the fragmented representations employed by the artist. Lines become stories, which evaporate and reappear, sometimes popping up elsewhere. This struggle to make sense of our own history is represented through the various emotional landscapes present in the work.
‘Wherever you go, you will be a polis,’ wrote Hannah Arendt, quoting that ancient Greek watchword. For Arendt, the polis resided in neither square nor arena but in “the organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together.” This moment of formation is what she deemed the “space of appearance,” or the site in which dignity and importance could be conferred through the act of mutual witnessing. A polis cannot be borne of an individual. It must be summoned by a crowd, and it must be seen. As the disaffected youth of the Cracovia soccer club exited their concrete housing estates and entered the soccer stadium, they did not yet exist. It was only when they turned their jackets out to expose their flame-colored linings that they stepped into the space of appearance. In that moment they became actors, albeit violent ones, of a polis that had made no room for them. Convoking a spectacle of fury, they demanded to be seen and to be reckoned with the only way they knew how.