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Juliana Yasin (b. 1970, Singapore - ) is a multi-disciplinary artist whose mediums of choice include painting, installation, video and performance art. Her works have dealt with themes like movement, identity, displacement, freedom and socio-political concerns, and she has often worked with collaborators and in collectives.
Education, career and background
Juliana studied at Lasalle College of the Arts from 1989 to 1990, before pursuing art studies in Western Australia in 1993. She graduated with a Diploma in Fine Art from Claremont Art School in 1994, and proceeded to obtain a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Curtin University of Technology in 1996.
A practising artist, Juliana has been an active member of the Artists’ Village and Plastique Kinetic Worms (PKW) collectives since 1990, and also curates works at the PKW gallery. Juliana has also taught at the Kolej Bandar Utama in Kuala Lumpur. Between 2004 and 2006, she was a researcher at the Asia Art Archive in Hong Kong.
Juliana was born to a Chinese mother who converted to Islam in order to marry her father, who is Malay-Muslim. Describing her parents as conservative, Juliana told The Straits Times in 1992: “I have to lock myself in my bedroom to paint my nude self-portraits.”
Juliana has exhibited her works in more than 60 exhibitions in Singapore, regionally and other countries including Australia, Germany, Ireland and Poland. Her first solo exhibition, titled Collaborations, was held at PKW in 1999 and featured more than 35 images of her face, which had been altered by fellow artists.
Major exhibitions she has participated in include The Worms Festival I and II (1999 and 2000), Kampung 2000 in 2001, the Gwangju Biennale (2002), and the Bangkok Performance Art Festival (2000, 2002). In 2003, Juliana was the only female artist invited to showcase her works at the Berita Harian exhibition that explored notions of Malay identity in Singapore.
In 2005, Juliana participated in a group exhibition titled Situation, along with other artists from Berlin, Singapore and Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Artists Karee Dahl and Colin Reaney are frequent collaborators with Juliana, and their joint exhibitions have included The Housework Project at the Alliance Francaise Singapore, the CP Open Biennale in Jakarta in 2003, Artists Investigating Monuments (2004/2005) and Traffic Space (2001) in Hong Kong.
In late 2007, Juliana presented her works at an exhibition at PKW titled Kites, Veils And Boarding Passes. The show was a milestone as it highlighted her growth as a practising artist since 1991. Despite having been diagnosed with cervical cancer two months before the exhibition and undergoing chemotherapy daily at the time, Juliana managed to complete the work for the exhibition. Curated by her friend Dahl, the exhibition spanned three rooms and featured the use of veils, cloaks and masks.
A travelling project, Fusion Strength, has been exhibited at various galleries and festivals such as PKW in Singapore (2001), Benda Art Space in Indonesia (2003) and 24HR Art in Australia (2005). Fusion Strength is a collaborative effort between Juliana and various local and international artists.
Art and Islam
In her works, Juliana has regularly considered themes related to art and Islam. She used to wear the headscarf as a teenager, removing it during her university years in Australia, and has also performed pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina. In addition to explorations of Muslim identity, her works have also analysed gender identity in contemporary settings.
In a performance art piece titled The Veil, Juliana dressed entirely in black with her face hidden behind masks traditionally used to mark a woman’s chastity and her status as her husband’s property in some parts of Saudi Arabia. In her hands, she held a placard that read: “The Subjugation of Women is a Worn-Out Habit in Saudi Arabia”.
The Veil was performed in Singapore, Thailand and Germany, but garnered the most controversy in Singapore. The Malay-language newspaper, Berita Harian, criticised the work’s stance on Islam and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) lodged a complaint to the producers. Juliana responded to the media attention by explaining her desire to question the narrow definition of Muslim female identity.
Jatiwangi Art Factory
In 2008, Juliana and fellow artist Heru Hikayat curated the Jatiwangi Art Festival (JAF ’08). JAF ’08 was a community art event that involved local and foreign artists living with host villagers from Jatisura, West Java, Indonesia. The event became a bi-annual art festival that aimed to raise awareness of art and societal issues faced by the community. Since then, Juliana has made Jatiwangi her second home.
Selected exhibitions and performance art events
1999 : Collaborations, Plastique Kinetic Worms, Singapore.
2000 : Buntus 2000, International Artists Collective Exhibition, Dublin, Ireland.
2000 : Artists Investigating Monuments, Singapore.
2001 : Kampung 2000, performance with Rizman Putra, Singapore.
2001 : Traffic Space, International Artists Space Project, Hong Kong.
2002 : Flag Project, Gwangju Biennale, Singapore and South Korea.
2002 : 4th Asiatopia Performance Art Festival, Bangkok, Thailand.
2003 : CP Open Biennale, The National Art Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia.
2003 : Berita Harian, Singapore.
2004 : What Do You Want To Eat, p-10, Singapore.
2004 : 9th Nippon International Performance Art Festival, Japan.
2005 : Situation, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia.
2006 : Art_Plus-jp Performance Art Project, Nagano Art Expo, Japan.
2006 : TAMA ’06, 3rd International Action Art Event, the Philippines.
2006 : Heal The Rift Between Us, M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, Singapore.
2007 : Kites, Veils and Boarding Passes, Plastique Kinetic Worms, Singapore.
2007 : 9th International Performance Art Festival, Warsaw, Poland.
2008 : 24HR Art, Darwin, Australia.
2008 : Solo exhibition, Jatiwangi Art Factory, Indonesia.
2009 : 2, Sculpture Square, Singapore.
2010 : Future of Imagination 6, Sculpture Square, Singapore.
Nurhaizatul Jamila Jamil
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Chin, F. (1999, May 19). Defaced for the sake of art. The Straits Times, Life!, p. 12. Retrieved on September 15, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Future of Imagination 6. (n.d.). Juliana Yasin. Retrieved on September 15, 2011, from http://www.foi.sg/index.php?/sg-artists/lynn-lu-/2/.
Oon, C. (2003, November 17). Malay visual artists make news. The Straits Times, Life!, p. 3. Retrieved on September 15, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Pandian, H. (1992, August 21). Women on the edge. The Straits Times, Life!. Retrieved on September 15, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Wilkinson, G. (2003, February). Islam in Asia: Muslim Mind, Female Body. TIME. Retrieved on September 15, 2011, from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,428173,00.html.
Yasin, J. (n.d.). Curriculum Vitae. Retrieved on September 15, 2011, from www.apad.org.sg/cinta/cv/juliana.doc.
Yasin, J. (n.d.). Juliana Yasin. Retrieved on September 15, 2011, from http://www.biotechnics.org/2julianayasin.html.
Yusof, H. (2001, March 15). Malay arts on show. The Straits Times, Life!, p. 5. Retrieved on September 15, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.