Event Susch

Muzeum Susch - Anu Põder: Space for My Body

Anu Põder: Space for My Body, Muzeum Susch 3 January-30 June 2024 from Thursday to Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Regular CHF 25 / reduced CHF 20 Info: info@muzeumsusch.ch +41 (0) 81 861 03 03


04.01.2024 to 30.06.2024 from 11:00 to 17:00 o'clock
on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Adults CHF 25.00
AHV, IV, children and students CHF 20.00
Children under 6 years old free of charge
Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH

Space for My Body

Space for my body, an exhibition curated by Cecilia Alemani. This is the first comprehensive institutional retrospective dedicated to the multidisciplinary Estonian artist Anu Põder (1947-2013) outside her home country.

The title of the exhibition is derived from one of Põder's sculptures, Space for My Body (1995), and brings together more than forty works from the period 1978 to 2012 that have rarely left Estonia and are mainly kept there in the Estonian Art Museum (Tallinn, Estonia) and the Tartu Art Museum (Tartu, Estonia) as well as the Anu Põder Estate. The aim of the exhibition reflects Muzeum Susch's founding mission to promote the work of international avant-garde women artists who have been overlooked or misunderstood in art institutions around the world and therefore not valued on an equal footing with their male counterparts.

Anu Põder's artistic practice focuses on the human body, highlighting the fragility, impermanence and transience of life in a series of highly evocative sculptures. Throughout her career, she used unconventional materials such as textiles, wax, plaster, soap, plastic and wood to compose filigree assemblages. Unlike her peers, who worked with traditional materials such as bronze and granite to represent the ideals of Soviet society, Põder developed her own intimate, highly vulnerable visual vocabulary of everyday, low-cost elements. Põder also had no interest in perpetuating political leaders or Soviet ideals. Rather, her gaze was directed inwards, because she wanted to depict the body from its inside. Põder worked on the threshold of two important epochs – the Soviet occupation of Estonia, which began in 1940, and the new independence achieved in 1991 – and she took up the uncertainty of the Estonian people about their own identity, being one of the few female artists to work in a decidedly male context, standing alongside other international artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Ana Mendieta and Alina Szapocznikow.

The exhibition is structured chronologically and focuses on three main aspects of the artist's work. In the first part, which deals with the body, dolls, mannequins and figures are shown, which are the main protagonists of Põder's imagery. On display is an extensive group of works ranging from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. Rejecting traditional forms of figuration, Põder composes powerful assemblages of amputated, decaying bodies, which she realizes with unusual materials such as plastic, burlap, wool, and epoxy. Works such as Before the Performance (1981), Very Old Memories (1985) and Composition with Plastic and Synthetic Wool (1986) are sensual, erotic and violent at the same time. They depict fragmented, amputated female torsos crisscrossed by amorphous appendages. In this series of sculptures, the body becomes a field of experimentation: limbs are twisted, poses are never straight, bodies embrace and intertwine with each other, hard materials meet crumbling elements. Põder's sculptures move on this smooth transition between affirmation of one's own physicality and discomfort.

The second part of the exhibition focuses on the role of unusual materials and garments as proxies for the body. In the 1990s, Põder created a highly suggestive and poetic body of work that includes coats and garments that have been altered, cut open and dissected. In works such as Space for My Body (1995), Patterns as Signs. Fur Coat (1996) and Cut-Up Handbags
(1997), the image of the body is no longer present, but is replaced by these garments by its ghostly appearance, creating a negative space that suggests the figure without ever fully depicting it. The same violence seen in the doll series returns here, this time in the cutting open of these garments, creating floating shells that suggest otherworldly presences.

The final part of the exhibition presents Põder's late work, focusing on her relationship to the senses, food and desire. Works in this field, such as Belecker and Schirm (both 2007), use or evoke food as a material, embracing the fleeting life of these elements, which can decay, change and disappear, filling the exhibition space with scents and flavors.

Põder is one of the most insightful voices in the Baltics of the last five decades. Since the 1970s, her work has been distinguished by its unique design, originality and extraordinarily personal character. But because it somehow didn't fit into Estonia's art landscape at the time, it was overlooked for many years.

The exhibition is curated by Cecilia Alemani, who is currently Donald R.
Mullen, Jr. is director and chief curator of High Line Art, the High Line's public art program in New York. In 2022, Alemani presented works by Anu Põder as part of The Milk of Dreams, the 59th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.


Muzeum Susch / Art Stations Foundation CH

Surpunt 78, 7542 Susch

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