“Kraków is known as the ‘City of Knives’ because of its recent history of violence to do with football hooliganism. For Marcin Dudek, his former life as a member of the Kraków based Cracovia football fan club, is both the troubling subject of and basis on which he further explores group behaviour, crowd control, violence and spectacle in a two-part exhibition, Steps and Marches, that recently took place at Harlan Levey Projects, Brussels and Edel Assanti, London.

“I still remember the day vividly, walking towards the stadium, fighting with the police before and during the match, and finally celebrating together on the terrace. It’s a group I was part of”, said Dudek gesturing at the series of thumbnail photographs, Too Close for Comfort (2012 – ongoing), that both exhibitions use as their starting points.

Dudek was unsure whether or not to publicly display them, a feeling echoed in their title. They were taken in 1995 in the build up to and during a riot at a match between Poland and Romania. Their intimate size and framing in large passpartout shows “the importance of framing a narrative and the importance of considering absence when consuming any type of media” continued Dudek.

There will be viewers of his work that will be appalled by his associations to such violence in his former life and therefore their interpretations will be strongly guided by this factor. Yet, it is plainly obvious that Dudek’s ability to oscillate between extreme vulnerability and reasoned analytical interrogation is so at odds with his former life and the subject matter at hand, implications of what is presented to the viewer do take time to grasp fully. Dudek’s work neither exonerates nor condemns the acts they reference but brings forth greater questions on violent behaviour within crowds.”