Poetic practice and art making in the era of extinction
Main Lecture Theatre
Professor Redell Olsen
Department of English
This lecture will explore the necessity for writing and the visual arts in response to our current era of extinction. At a time when so many species are becoming extinct due to habitat loss, climate disaster and the global fossil fuel and mining economy, why would we need artists and writers at all? And what should they be doing? By way of response, and drawing inspiration from a diverse range of figures, that includes: Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), Rachel Carson (1907–1964), Otobong Nkanga (1974-) and critic Donna Haraway, this talk will offer a hybrid poetics towards an alternative mode of art-writing that attempts to refigure terms such as: environment, species and landscape.
Admission free but booking is essential.
Redell Olsen makes work in a range of media that include poetry, film, visual arts and performance. Her most recent projects include: Now Circa (1918): a film in response to the anniversary of 100 years of female suffrage in the UK which was shortlisted for 'Best Research Film of the Year' in the AHRC Research in Film Awards in 2018. Her collaborative film and performance work, ‘Observation Judgement Action’ or (Foil, Jumping, Daisies)’ in response to the work of Josef and Anni Albers was shown in Cambridge, London and South Wales in 2018. Film Poems (Les Figues, 2014) collects the texts for her films and performances from 2007–2012. Selected publications of her poetry include: 'Punk Faun: a bar rock pastel' (Subpress, 2012), 'Secure Portable Space' (Reality Street, 2004), 'Book of the Fur' (rem press 2000), and, in collaboration with the bookartist Susan Johanknecht, 'Here Are My Instructions' (Gefn, 2004). She has published a number of bookworks: ‘Woolf / Apelles’ (2019), ‘Sapphires and Lemurs’ (2019), ‘Smock’ (2017) and ‘Mox Nox’ (2017) some which have been shown in gallery contexts. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (Shearsman, 2010) and I’ll Drown My Book: 'Conceptual Writing by Women' (Les Figues Press, 2011). She has also published critical essays on visual arts, film, poetry and poetics. From 2006 until 2010 she edited the internet Journal How(2), an early online journal that published modernist and contemporary writing by women, including digital poetics. Her current research interests include: feminism, ecology, theory and the history and development of experimental textual practice in poetry, the novel and the visual arts. Redell Olsen has taught at Royal Holloway since 2002 when she set up the influential MA in Poetic Practice with Professor Robert Hampson. In 2013/14 she was the Judith E Wilson visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge. She is currently the director of the Poetics Research Centre at Royal Holloway and the Poetic Practice pathway leader for the MA in Creative Writing.
Redell Olsen, ‘destroys many common habitats’ 2020