Melbourne Now 2023, NGV Australia, Ian Potter Centre
See the full Artist Film Program
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 agricultural 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.
Film creditsThe Pioneers, 2021, single channel video and stereo sound, HD, 17 minutes 48 seconds, courtesy Olivia KohSound design: Olivia Koh and Bonnie CummingsSound engineer: Bonnie CummingsBahasa Melayu translation: Nasreen Nasaruddin
Image credits: Tobias Titz