Slash & Burn I
Building on his self-made publication Akumulatory, Slash & Burn I consists of two new works and a monumental installation begun during his first exhibition with Harlan Levey Projects (Too Close for Comfort, 2013). Akumulatory (Polish for battery) is a collection of snapshots of underground gyms in Poland, found in various blogs on DIY gyms. The images show training facilities set up by young people squatting in empty council estate building basements. Welding and constructing the training equipment from scrap metal was a popular way for Polish youths to spend their free time, a precursor to building muscle mass and social connections. The installation Akumulator salvages architecture and objects from Dudek’s youth to recreate a room that could (almost) be one from the book. It was this type of basement gym that ultimately led a young Dudek from the council estate to the stadium and into football’s violent subculture as a supporter of FC Cracovia.
Since that first exhibition at the gallery, Dudek’s research and work have explored this subculture, the sport it followed, the social spectacle it became part of, and broader phenomenon related to crowd dynamics, mass events and mob related violence. Like Akumulator the second work in the exhibition Too Close for Comfort III is largely autobiographical while the epic painting Slash & Burn continues his series on stadium disasters as over 200 individually collaged, painted and burned panels, evoke scenes from the Bradford City fire in 1985. The level of detail and craft is manic and neurotic, meditative and thoughtful, as violence becomes an energetic aesthetic reflecting a lived experience. The impressive blend of rigorous craftsmanship and conceptual thinking result in a striking manner of social abstraction.