Anu Põder

Anu Põder, Tongues, 1998. Courtesy of Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn. Photo: Hedi Jaansoo

Anu Põder, Tongues, 1998. Courtesy of Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn. Photo: Hedi Jaansoo

Anu Põder, Tongues, 1998. Courtesy of Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn. Photo: Hedi Jaansoo

Anu Põder, Tongues, 1998. Courtesy of Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn. Photo: Hedi Jaansoo

Anu Põder, Tongues, 1998. Courtesy of Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn. Photo: Hedi Jaansoo

Anu Põder, Tongues, 1998. Courtesy of Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn. Photo: Hedi Jaansoo

Anu Põder  (1947–2013, Estonia) was a sculptor whose practice remained relatively  unknown to an international audience until recently. Interested in the fragility and  impermanence or human-like ‘lifespan’ of materials, Põder favoured the use of textile, wax, plaster, soap, glue, plastic and wood throughout her artistic career. She began  working in the 1970s within the context of a so-called ‘bronze age’ within Estonian art,  when the visual language of heavy and solid materials such as bronze and granite was  dominant.  Conversely, Põder explored the capacity of materials to deteriorate, corrode  and change appearance. Recent exhibitions include Baltic Triennial, Lithuania (2018) and  the major retrospective  Anu Põder: Be Fragile! Be Brave!  at Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn  (2017).

Project Description

Anu Põder’s set of sculptures titled Tongues (1998) from Tate’s Collection are presented at Tate Liverpool. Showing various stages of decay and corrosion, Põder’s sculptures are realistic representations of the human tongue, cut and exaggerated in size, and cast from soap. Working while Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union, Põder’s use of everyday materials alludes to the domesticity expected of women, while the violent imagery of a human tongue removed from its mouth evokes notions of silencing, apprehension and fear. The enlarged size of the tongues gives weight to their presence, emphasising the vitalness of freedom of expression.