Marcin Dudek in Het Nieuwsblad

'Polish ex-hooligan Marcin Dudek shows autobiographically inspired artwork with solo exhibition 'The Group' at Extra City'

19 May 2023 An institutional solo exhibition by Polish Brussels-based artist Marcin Dudek has been on show at Kunsthal Extra City in Rue de la Province since last week. The former hooligan is forging a solid career within contemporary visual art. The precipitation of that effort is now on show in Benelux for the first time. His intriguing artistic practice covers various themes from group and mass psychology to family, security and violence. The exhibition runs until 8 October.


From an early age, Marcin Dudek encountered extreme forms of stadium violence. Together with his brother, he was part of the hooligans of Polish football club KS Cracovia, who became bogged down in criminal activities to pass the 1990s. Paradoxically, membership in that violent gang also meant safety and security for Dudek. A tension that is clearly palpable throughout his work.


Take The Protectionist Reflex: a freestanding stadium fence that starts rattling every few minutes. The fence is supposed to both protect but actually represents pure hostility. It does not appease, but it does incite aggression in the crowd.


Marcin Dudek, The Protectionist Reflex, 2023.


His autobiographically inspired work also addresses the human desire for security, as well as the structural similarities between religion and football. The Guardians, for instance, exposes the link between the Catholic Church and Polish hooliganism. Within a context of pro-abortion marches and crumbling faith, priests count on protection from potty-mouthed football fans, to whom we pardon them in return.


According to curator Joachim Naudts, The Group is a perfect first introduction to the Polish artist's intriguing work. "Dudek's interest is not so much in the game of football per se, but he takes this seemingly innocuous leisure activity as a starting point for a profound examination of spirals of violence and our urge to belong somewhere. The Group has become a comprehensive exhibition that takes a nuanced look at group dynamics and our condition humaine."


Those wishing to explore Marcin Dudek's other works can do so until 8 October.

19 May 2023
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