29 November 2019 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.
Marcin Dudek, Akumulator, 2018, steel, wood, medical tape, mirror, neon light, iron, paper, leather, silicon and cell phone, 290 x 220 x 220 cm, installation view at Edel Assanti, London, 2019