Researcher Profile: Olga F. Koroleva

With so many new faces around the lab, we wanted to make space for longer introductions to the research affiliates who are convening this year’s events. Our second profile is on Olga F. Koroleva, who is convening Littoral Listening #9 on January 13.

1. Can you tell us about your work/research?

In recently years, I have come to describe my practice as expanded research cinema: there is always an element of writing, now also storytelling, and a moving image element arranged in various formations-constellations. Thematically I have deliberately shifted
into the world of more-than-human in 2016 (and haven’t looked back!), then learning to slow down in practice as in the every day, to make a life-practice of intuitive knowing and learning also an integral part of work-practice. I wrote a little about this in the piece Soft
Forest (which should eventually have a second iteration and explore the notions of land ownership; please excuse the many typos in that text!), which is a part of the larger project Hidden, my ongoing work with the plant Callisia Fragrans that talks about hidden disability and healing practices. Co-making speculatively with other people – human and more than human, has become very important to my practice, as have approaches in pedagogy, especially learning from indigenous ways of learning and teaching, and paying attention to stories, those I read about in First Nations academic texts, and those
my granddad used to tell me – these are all interwoven in my practice.

2. Why did you want to work with the FEELed Lab?

I was very fortunate to have been introduced to Astrida Neimanis’ writing in the reading group The Political Animal, which I set up back in 2016 (my personal animal turn) – together with Water Bodies we read about bodies of water by the water out loud as a group in Whitstable, UK, and then swam in the sea. That experience and her work have really stayed with me. Some time after I was so humbled and pleasantly surprised to learn just how open and approachable she was in person, and that was a real inspiration: that one can be both intelligent and accomplished in their work and a kind and generous human, seemed rare. Academia can be such a tough place, especially for women, queer folk, and minorities, and meeting Astrida made me want to cultivate kindness in myself and to learn as much as I could from her, so I have followed her, and now also FEELed Lab’s work since. I was lucky to be part of the FEELed Lab Symposium earlier this year and to meet some wonderful humans there, from all parts of the world – they have become unexpected new kin and support in these truly difficult times. I am very grateful.

3. Why are expansive, transnational engagements with environmental issues important?

I don’t think they should even be called transnational – in the sense of a nation somehow being limited to geopolitical borders; I have been thinking about this for a long time – I clearly remember studying the different of the world map in school and at home and wondering, in disbelief: well, if there is a border, how are the animals meant to
cross? This is a simplified way to put it of course. Then more recently I learned about the Aboriginal Australian notion of country beautifully and poignantly put into words by Deborah Bird Rose in Wild Dog Dreaming: ‘Country is a spatial unit—large enough to
support a group of people, small enough to be intimately known in every detail, and home to the living things whose lives come and go in that place’ (p.17). Reading this I felt like this is the understanding, the worldview I had intuitively known all along but did not have the tools to express then, and then at last I had. So for me environmental
issues are already always transnational and expansive – we don’t need to make then such, the already exist way beyond any borders, yet nation states have somehow tried to convince us otherwise.

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