Estonian artist's Anu Põder's work at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia

February 13, 2022
Author Echo Gone Wrong
Published in News from Estonia

Works by the Estonian artist Anu Põder (1947 – 2013) have been selected for the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, titled Milk of Dreams (curated by Cecilia Alemani).

The Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art and the Art Museum of Estonia are delighted to announce that the curatorial exhibition of the Biennale Arte 2022 includes works by the Estonian artist Anu Põder.

This year’s curatorial exhibition at Biennale Arte, Milk of Dreams is inspired by the book of the same name by the Mexican writer Leonora Carrington. The curator Cecilia Alemani has divided the exhibition, opening at the end of April, between three themes: bodies and of their transformation; the relationship between human and technology; the relationship between bodies and the Earth. In total, Cecilia Alemani’s curatorial exhibition features 213 artists, 180 of them have never before shown at the Biennale.

Previously, two Estonian artists have participated in the main exhibition of the Biennale: Ene-Liis Semper at the 2001 exhibition, curated by Harald Szeemann, and Jaan Toomik at the 2003 exhibition, curated by Francesco Bonami. The selection of Anu Põder’s works by Cecilia Alemani for the curatorial exhibition is a significant and special moment in Estonian art.

Anu Põder (1947–2013) was an Estonian sculptor and installation artist. Throughout her career, she experimented with new abstract forms and a variety of materials from plaster and wood, charcoal and textile, to light, scent and taste. Põder’s early work is looking at a young woman’s journey to motherhood and being a middle-aged woman at the very end of the Soviet period; her later work sees the artist slowly turning her gaze outward and commenting on social processes in the newly independent Estonia. Põder’s early work did not fall in line with the principles of the so-called bronze age, when Estonian sculptors were casting an extraordinary number of monuments and portrait statues – she did not work with bronze, but followed the formal experimentation direction prevalent at the time, guiding her from Surrealism to depictions of pop culture and everyday life.

In recent years, Anu Põder’s work has been exhibited at Kumu Art Museum (2017), 13th Baltic Triennial in Vilnius (2018), Pori Art Museum (2019), La Galerie Noisy-Le-Sec in Paris (2019), and Liverpool Biennial (2021). In 2021, the second original version of the work Tongues (Activation Version)(1998) was acquired by the Tate in London. The first original version belongs to the Art Museum of Estonia.

Cecilia Alemani (1977) is an Italian curator based in New York. She has previously curated the Italian pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (2017) and worked with the parallel programmes of art fairs Frieze and Art Basel. Since 2011, she has worked at the High Line Art Program that commissions artworks for public spaces and unusual locations. Alemani has written for numerous art magazines and published art books. She is the first Italian female curator invited to curate the main exhibition of the Venice Biennale. In preparation to the Biennale Arte 2022, she conducted research on Estonian art, as per the invitation of the Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art.

La Biennale di Venezia is the oldest and the most extensive international art event in the world. In addition to the system of national pavilions, in which Estonia has taken part in since 1997, the Biennale also includes a curatorial exhibition at the Giardini and at the Arsenale exhibition sites. The main exhibition is curated by a different curator each time, who, together with their team invites artists from all over the world to exhibit at the show. The 59th International Art Exhibition is open from 23 April until 27 November.

The presentation of Anu Põder’s work at the Venice Biennale is funded by the Estonian Ministry of Culture. The presentation is organized by the Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art and the Art Museum of Estonia.