Installation view of Yee-I-Lan's <em>Tikar/Meja</em> on display in NGV Triennial from 3 December 2023 to 7 April 2024 at NGV International, Melbourne. Photo: Sean Fennessy

Yee I-Lann

Photo: courtesy of Silverlens (Manila/NewYork)

Yee I-Lann
Malaysia born 1971

Level 1
NGV International
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Yee I-Lann has collaborated with communities from the Malaysian state of Sabah in northern Borneo to make tikar – woven mats. These works are woven by the historically nomadic and sea-dwelling Bajau Sama Dilaut people, some of whom now reside in stilt huts over water off the coast of Omadal Island. The weavers are mostly women, the traditional makers and knowledge holders of the tikar.

The power of the tikar is further demonstrated by Tikar/Meja (mat/table), a collection of sixty mats, upon each of which has been woven an image of a table. The table signifies administrative power and control – colonial, patriarchal, federal and state. Tables are the opposite of the non-hierarchical, woman-made and community-based open platform of the tikar. Tikar/Meja depicts the table within the confines of the mat – in rolling up the mat, the table is engulfed.

The tikar enables conversation, connection and the preservation of cultural heritage – both tangible and intangible. While the past may hold lingering pain, these weaving traditions, local knowledge and community can also heal.

Yee I-Lann lives and works in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Her work explores the shifting nexus of power, colonialism and neo-colonialism in South-East Asia, and the impact of historic memory in social experience, including working collaboratively with sea-based and land-based communities in Sabah, Malaysia. She has exhibited in international exhibitions including the Yinchuan Biennale 2016; the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art 2015 and 1999; the Jakarta Biennale 2015; the Singapore Biennale 2013 and 2006; and Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale 2009. Her exhibition Yee I-Lann: 2005–2016 was held at the Ayala Museum, Manila.

Purchased with funds donated by Helen Nicolay, and NGV Foundation, 2022