Lot 65

b. Sabah, 1971

KERBAU, 2007

Digital print, edition 6 of 8
60cm x 279cm

Private Collection, Kuala Lumpur.

Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur, 2007. 

Yee I-Lann, Fluid World, Beverly Yong and Adeline Ooi, Valentine Willie Fine Art, 2010, page 110.

ESTIMATE  RM 13,000 - 18,000


In Yee I-Lann’s monograph titled Fluid World published 5 years ago to celebrate her impressive achievements for “the past 17 years”, the artist has written her thoughts on the conception of Kerbau:

“Kerbau began as a tribute piece to the Southeast Asian water buffalo. As I was producing the work, the current affairs of Malaysia, the street demonstrations that were occurring at the time, influenced what the image became.

I had recently been on a drive in search of the common water buffalo in Terengganu on Malaysia’s peninsular east coast. I was shocked that finding the taken-for-granted buffalo wasn’t as easy as I had assumed. It was made apparent to me that the iconic water buffalo was becoming obsolete and was being replaced by the cow and tractor.

This struck me not just as a signifier of current socio-economic times and a collective shift in a historically shared regional identity but also illustrated deeply embedded “grass-roots” change. Beyond the immediate sentimentality and romance of this beast of burden associated to idyllic kampong scenes and working the land, lie parallel stories and metaphors of our collective landscape in both its physical and sociological form. It feels to me that the buffalo is linked with our place in the globalized world. Our kampong are changing, therefore we are changing.

Kerbau celebrates the water buffalo and attempts to obstinately claim a place – perhaps no longer to measure a man’s wealth or the value of a bride but as a measure and value of transformation. As an extension of this, when our ruling government condemned street demonstrations with a retort of this is “not our culture” (“bukan budaya kita”), Kerbau took on the added recalcitrant protest of a collective heartland whole to mulishly reclaim our street as ours and very much part of our budaya.

In rhythm with the street and its culture, Kerbau is printed on PVC tarpaulin in the form of a billboard (275cm x 925cm).”

Yee I-Lann has earned her way of becoming a successful photo media-based artist exploring social, power, historical and cultural issues by speculating an image with its context. Besides creating art, she is also a production designer for feature films locally and abroad. Her solo exhibitions include Picturing Power and Tabled, a body of work made for Museum Van Loon’s Suspended Histories exhibition in 2013, formed part of two solo exhibitions in 2014 - at Tyler Rollins Fine Art in New York and Silverlens Gallery at Gilman Barracks, Singapore; Fluid World which travelled to Australia and Taiwan in 2011; Boogeyman (Kuala Lumpur) in 2010; Horizon (Kuala Lumpur) in 2003; BUY by labDNA (Singapore) in 2001 among others. Her digital print with batik on silk work titled Empires of Privateers and Their Glorious Ventures from the Orang Besar series was included in Curators’ Series #7. A Special Arrow Was Shot In The Neck…, at David Roberts Art Foundation, London, curated by Natasha Ginwala and Vivian Ziherl. The three “Kain Panjang” batik works from the series travelled to Daegu Photo Biennale 2014: Origins, Memories & Parodies, curated by Alejandro Castellote. Picturing Power, together with YB from the Orang Besar series was included in The Roving Eye: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia, at ARTER in Istanbul, curated by Iola Lenzi (2015). In 2014, works from Picturing Power were also brought to Art Basel Hong Kong, the Milan Image Fair and Paris Photo by Silverlens Gallery.



Yee I-Lann, Fluid World , Beverly Yong and Adeline Ooi, Valentine Willie Fine Art, 2010.