Marcin Dudek in The Art Newspaper

Three exhibitions to see in London this weekend by KABIR JHALA and JOSÉ DA SILVA

Last year Marcin Dudek made a to-scale recreation of a makeshift gym, originally built in the 1990s by his crew of football hooligans in the basement of a Krakow council estate. Now the centre-piece of Akumulator at Edel Assanti (until 20 December; free), its rusted steel frame brings the raw, subterranean aesthetics of an Eastern European fight club into the gallery space. Here, we are immersed in a post-Communist moment where, in the absence of other outlets of self-expression, a hyper-masculine culture manifested itself among a generation of lost men. Accordingly, through repurposing neglected materials, Dudek uses found objects to gives a hunter-gatherer-like utility to the works, fashioning the corrugated metal from radiators into large barbell weights and his own leather jacket into a punching bag with its stuffing viscerally busted out on the floor below. On one ‘wall’ of the gym hangs a cloth tape collage in which hundreds of images, taken from online forums where men brag about their own DIY gyms, are criss-crossed together in reference to Piranesi’s 18th-century geometric prison drawings. But this gym is not a place of entrapment, it is a community-built space that functions as an "an alternative pathway for crime-driven youth... a model for survival". Dudek might well be critiquing a crisis of masculinity here, but equally he celebrates the group bonding that occurs in situations of hardship—that deeply human impulse to form communities under any circumstance.

November 29, 2019