ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

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Galerie Ron Mandos is pleased to present Trans Hooligans, an exhibition of works by Marcin Dudek (1979). Through his experiences of being part of a hooligan group in Krakow during his adolescence, the Polish artist explores the subculture of fanatical support groups and the dynamics of crowds in and around the football stadium. These explorations help us to understand the functioning of the human psyche, our insatiable need to belong to a community, and our thirst for recognition and hierarchy.

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A main component of the exhibition is the installation Trans Hooligans (2020). This work explores the radical nature of the ultra communities through the autobiographical account of the failed attempt to attend a football match in 1995, which led to a violent clash between two rival fan groups. The main body of the installation consists of a sliced-up Volkswagen Transporter, reconstructed in the form of a cage. The metal structure is then covered by a flag made of fabric quilted from the characteristic uniform of the ultras: training pants, tops, sport shoes, custom scarves, caps, and balaclavas.

Within the installation, we find TV screens showing looped footage and photographs of ultras boasting about their bodies and drawing attention to themselves. We see the everyday rituals of football fanatics, which are often raw, at times aggressive and even toxic. In addition to the installation, the exhibition includes a video of Dudek’s performance practice, which gives us a taste of the highly charged choreographies of the stadium. Equipped with clothes and tools belonging to the hooligan vocabulary, like black and orange smoke grenades, the performance allows the artist to relive the extreme sensations of violence and panic, the desire for disturbance, and the movement of the crowd.

Dudek’s collages often allude to tragic or violent events from stadium history, such as the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985. His Heysel series from 2021 animates the degradation of an aerial view of the stadium to the motion of a crowd in turmoil. Other collages in the exhibition refer to theoreticians and scholars working in the domain of crowd behavior, such as the biologist and evolutionary theorist W.D. Hamilton. All collages are created in Dudek’s characteristic style – with bits of medical or gaffer tape meticulously sliced and pasted onto a wooden pane, ultimately taking shape in dynamically abstract structures. The level of detail and craft is manic and neurotic, meditative and thoughtful, as violence becomes an energetic aesthetic reflecting a lived experience.

All works courtesy the artist and Harlan Levey Projects⁠

ABOUT Marcin Dudek

Born in 1979, in Poland
Lives and works in Brussels

Dudek is an artist whose objects, installations, collages, and performances touch upon questions regarding the role of control in society, the hierarchy of power, and mechanisms that govern the release of violence and aggression. His use of abstraction to deal with these questions further highlights the effort, anxiety and compulsion that characterize his process of image production.

Dudek’s artistic practice is focused on situations that are based on the confrontation between the world of violence and the world of art. To construct these situations, he often invokes the history of extreme events that have taken place in stadium spaces, paired with events of his own experience as a teenage football fan. Dudek analyzes the abstract concept of aggression, triggered frequently and often without premeditation, within the architecture of any given spectacle.

After leaving Poland aged 21, he studied at the University Mozarteum, Salzburg and at Central Saint Martins, London, graduating in 2005 and 2007 respectively. His work has been exhibited internationally at institutions including the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Salzburger Kunstverein (AT), the Arad Art Museum (RO), Bunkier Sztuki Gallery in Krakow (PL), the Goethe-Institut Ukraine, and The Warehouse Dallas (US). His installation “The Cathedral of Human Labor” (2013) is on permanent view at the Verbeke Foundation in Belgium. In 2018, he presented a large installation at Manifesta 12 Palermo, which was followed by a solo exhibition at the Wrocław Contemporary Museum.

 

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