Olivia Koh <em>The Pioneers</em> 2021 (still); single-channel video. Courtesy of the artist<br/>
© Olivia Koh

Olivia Koh

Olivia Koh

Free entry

The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Fed Square
Ground Level

View on map

Olivia Koh The Pioneers 2021 (still); single-channel video. Courtesy of the artist
© Olivia Koh

Olivia Koh
(b. 1990, in Naarm/Melbourne. Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne)

Olivia Koh is an artist working in moving-image production. Drawing on a personal family history of land ownership, migration and extractive agriculture, her work examines the complexities and real challenges of navigating a diasporic identity and history.

The Pioneers, 2021, is informed by research into the artist’s paternal family’s history of immigration. The video presents a fragmented sketch of the family’s movement from China and Taiwan to southern rural Malaysia. Koh’s uncle described the family as ‘The Pioneers’ because they employed agri‑ cultural practices on foreign land to generate wealth and prosperity in the early to late twentieth century. Compiled from a geographic distance, the video combines audio excerpts from online interviews with her family members alongside footage collected in Malaysia, Taiwan and Australia over the past five years. The artists’ voice is a constant and hesitant guide throughout the work, asking: What is lost, what is gained and what changes occur to personal migratory history. The moving collage of fragments highlights the sometimes disconnecting and unpredictable experiences of migration, storytelling and memory.

Koh has held solo exhibitions at Kings Artist-Run Initiative (2021), SEVENTH Gallery (2018) and Bus Projects (2015) in Melbourne, and has appeared in collaborative and group exhibitions at UNSW Galleries, Sydney (2016, 2018), Contemporary Art Tasmania, Hobart (2017), and the Centre for Contemporary Photo‑ graphy, Melbourne (2017). Koh undertook an artist residency at Green Papaya Art Projects in Manila, the Philippines in 2017. She organises recess (recess.net.au), an online platform for moving-image works, and has curated physical and online screenings and installations with RISING Festival (2021), ACE Open (2020), TCB Art Inc. (2020), Constance (2019), and the Hobiennale (2017, 2019).

The Pioneers appeared in Community Hall on 10–16 Apr 2023.

Film credits
The Pioneers, 2021, single channel video and stereo sound, HD, 17 minutes 48 seconds, courtesy Olivia Koh
Sound design: Olivia Koh and Bonnie Cummings
Sound engineer: Bonnie Cummings
Bahasa Melayu translation: Nasreen Nasaruddin