Silverlens presents an exhibition of works by Yee ILann

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Silverlens presents an exhibition of works by Yee ILann
Yee I-Lann, Tikar/Meja 19, 2018- 2019, Bajau Sama DiLaut Pandanus weave with commercial chemical dye and matt sealant, 48.43h x 57.09w in, 123h x 145w cm.

MANILA.- Silverlens announces one of its three concluding exhibitions of the year, ZIGAZIG ah! by Sabahan artist Yee ILann. This is Yee’s first solo exhibition in Manila since her 2016 landmark exhibition, Yee I-Lann: 2005-2016, in Ayala Museum. This is also her second solo exhibition with Silverlens, but her first in the Manila gallery space. Previous exhibition was Tabled (2014) at Silverlens, Gillman Barracks, Singapore.

In 2018, Yee started working with weavers from Keningau in the Borneo interior and Pulau Omadal, Semporna, in the Sulu Sea. ZIGAZIG ah! is her first solo exhibition of new works emerging from these collaborations across her homeland, or tanahair (literally “earth water”).

For Yee, the mat is an object with many names: tikar in Malay, tikam in Kadazan, tepo in Sama DiLaut/Bajau Laut or banig in Tagalog. It is a shared everyday object, nearly always communally made, sold and used primarily by women. It demarcates space, is a site of gathering and conversation, work, performance, dreaming. Mats are often made for barter and trade. They become heirlooms, the patterns of their weave handed down through generations as a form of local knowledge. They can be assigned meaning through ritual; they map and tell stories of place, history, culture, environment, change and exchange. Laid down, they are activated for use; hung, they become symbolic objects.

Bringing her individual practice from the world of “contemporary art” into dialogue with the traditional craft practices and aesthetics of two specific communities, Yee pulls together different languages of art and plays on what is lost, or discovered, in translation.

The table, in Yee’s work, is a signifier of administrative power – colonial, patriarchal, federal. 60 Tikar Meja, or “Mat Table” woven using pandanus dyed in bold colours by the indigenous, semi-nomadic and stateless Bajau Sama DiLaut women of Pulau Omadal, speak of a different kind of power.

Dusun Murut weavers in Keningau, using natural and blackened split bamboo pus weave worked with Yee to develop a pattern translating digital pixels into woven pixels, a language for the modern, connected world. In this language, we read messages pieced together from the lyrics of English karaoke favorites in Semporna and Keningau: lines about love, longing, abuse, betrayal, regret, beautiful lands and stormy seas, and, from the Spice Girls’ breakthrough 1996 hit, Wannabe, “zig-a-zigah”

ZIGAZIG ah! by Yee I-Lann is on view from 7 December 2019 to 11 January 2020 alongside Equation of State by Martha Atienza and 59.59 by Corinne de San Jose at Silverlens, 2263 Don Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City.

Yee I-Lann (b. 1971, Kota Kinabalu) currently lives and works in Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah. Her primarily photomedia-based practice engages with archipelagic Southeast Asia’s turbulent history with works addressing issues of colonialism and neo-colonialism, power, and the impact of historic memory in social experience, often with particular focus on counter-narrative “histories from below”. She employs a complex, multi-layered visual vocabulary drawn from historical references, popular culture, archives, and everyday objects. She has in recent years started working collaboratively with sea-based and land-based communities and indigenous mediums in Sabah. She is a co-founding associate of The Ricecooker Archives: Southeast Asian Rock ‘n’ Roll Treasury with her partner Joe Kidd and has worked as a production designer in the Malaysian film industry. She is currently a Board member for Forever Sabah and Tamparuli Living Arts Center (TaLAC), both based in Sabah.

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