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Yee I-Lann

Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness
Glyndor Gallery | April 8–July 9, 2017

Pictured above:
Landscape, 2016
Giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper
19½" x 66"
Courtesy of the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York, NY

Yee I-Lann’s recent digital-photo-collage works and three-channel video are inspired by the legend of the Pontianak, a vindictive, native Malaysian spirit said to live in the banana plant. Yee reframes the female of the local folkloric tradition, placing it in a contemporary and actively socio-political context.

According to Yee, “My practice always remembers the woman; it explores power relationships across time, history and groups of people at varying degrees of distance to the assorted centers of colonialism, postcolonialism and indigenous knowledge.” Imagining Pontianak: I’ve Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day is a video within a series of works that explore contemporary female political agency through Pontianak. This series is “driven by the conflation of several areas of interest: postcolonial political thought parallel to the birth of Southeast Asian nation-states after World War II; the Gerwani feminist movement of Indonesia.

Yee first learned of Nancy Spero’s art in 1997, through a book by Jon Bird in Phaidon’s Contemporary Artists series. “I still have it, 20 years later. It is one of my go-to books when I feel stuck because it has become like a notebook of drawings, collaged thoughts and my memories and experiences.” For Yee, “it is a reminder, like a validation, that it’s okay to conflate personal storytelling with politics and current affairs and stretch across time with a familiarity that is rude to question, that you don’t have to be precious with a photograph and to play angrily as a conscious woman.” What speaks to Yee “is a consciousness within her drawings and collages—a memory of experiences and knowledge of the world through events and friends—overlapping, disparate, personal yet not personal, small yet epic, across time and historiographies.”

Yee I-Lann has established herself over the past 20 years as one of South East Asia's leading contemporary artists, known for her digital-photo-collage series that deftly employs a complex, multilayered visual vocabulary drawn from historical references, popular culture, archives and everyday objects. Her works speculate on issues of culture, power and the role of historical memory in social experience, often focusing on themes and motifs that refer to the indigenous cultures of Borneo. Yee’s exhibition highlights include the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, Australia (2015 and 1999); the Jakarta Biennale, Indonesia (2015); The Roving Eye, ARTER Space for Art, Istanbul, Turkey (2014–15); Finding Your Place in the World: Asian Photo-media, at the National Gallery of Australia. She was a member of the curatorial team for the 2013 Singapore Biennale. Yee received her BA in visual arts from the University of South Australia, Adelaide, in 1993.

 

Pictured above:
Imagining Pontianak: I’ve Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day, 2016
Three-channel video
13:11 min.
Courtesy of the artist and Tyler Rollins Fine Art, New York

Learn more about the artist here

Support for the Visual Arts Program is provided by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.