Art Detail | Ilham Gallery
Malaysiana Series: Through Rose Coloured Glasses
Malaysiana Series: Through Rose Coloured Glasses

Yee I-Lann’s Malaysiana Series: Through Rose Coloured Glasses turns to catalogue the ordinary Malaysian’s hopes and dreams. The series is constructed from found photographs. I-Lann has created a collection of typologies out of photographic studio portraits that were commonly taken by families to commemorate a momentous occasion, prior to the proliferation of digital photography. By clustering together photographs taken by different families celebrating similar events, I-Lann highlights how even as these are all capturing private family moments, they are a product of a shared historical experience.

Lightbox installation
102 x 1,825 cm
Credit Line:
Collection of ILHAM Foundation
© Yee I-Lann
About Yee I-Lann

Yee I-Lann (b. 1971, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo) 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 She employs a complex, multi-layered visual vocabulary drawn from historical references, popular culture, archives, and everyday objects.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.

Learning Section

  • Look at the different groups in this piece. What are the things that make these photographs similar? What do you notice about the background, the composition and the poses of the different family members? In what way are the individual photos different?

  • Do you or your family own any similar photographs taken in a photography studio or by a professional photographer? When and why were they taken? Where are they kept and when do you look at them? While cameras were once a luxury and it was much more affordable to get a studio photo than to take your own, most of us now own multiple devices which can take digital photos. How has technology changed the way we take photographs? Do you take photos of your family with a digital device? How are they different from these photos? Where are they displayed and when do you look at them?

  • What does the expression "through rose coloured glasses mean"? Why does the artist use this phrase in the title of this artwork? What does this artwork tell us about the Malaysia of the 1970s?