Yulia Kovanova is a Siberian-born, Scotland-based artist, filmmaker, film curator and educator. Her practice focuses on the notion of entanglements and investigates the human within interspecies relationships, exploring crossovers between human and non-human worlds. She examines the in-betweenness of things and how seemingly separate objects, bodies and phenomena relate. Her practice focuses on the transitory: shifting perceptions, borders and boundaries.
She employs a research-based approach, working across a range of media, including experimental and creative documentary film, and sculptural and audio-visual installations. Her artworks make use of specialist expertise, often involving collaboration with architects, scientists and composers, to create lyrical and inquisitive connections between people and their environment. She draws on recent ecological thinking, feminist studies, and the emergent fields of environmental humanities and multispecies studies. She achieved an MFA with distinction in Art, Space & Nature at the Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh in 2016.
Kovanova’s immersive projects invite audiences to consider concealed qualities of our environment, drawing relevance from current concerns for climate and biological diversity, while promoting an optimistic stance that begins and ends with an enriched appreciation of entangled interspecies relationships. Her work has been presented at leading arts events, including Setouchi International Triennale, Japan, Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Science Festival, Aichi Triennale, and international film festivals. She delivered artistic commissions for organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), NHS Lothian and Fujisato Town Council, Akita, Japan.
In 2017 she co-founded The Surface Agency, a collaborative artistic practice with a shared creative interest in entangling speculative questions about the living world. Working from the idea that to understand the living world is to appreciate its sensuous surface, The Surface Agency focuses on understanding ecological dynamics, encompassing the entangled interactions of social, biological, ecological and technological systems. The Surface Agency has worked with leading environmental agencies, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Kovanova’s work has been presented at leading arts events, including Setouchi International Triennale, Edinburgh Art Festival and Edinburgh Science Festival, Aichi Triennale, Fruitmarket Gallery, An Tobar Gallery, and several international film festivals. Her experimental documentary film Plastic Man received BAFTA Scotland and UK Best Short Film (Open City Documentary Festival) nominations. It premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) and screened at arts venues and film festivals worldwide.
Additionally, Kovanova is an independent film curator, having programmed for the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), Edinburgh Short Film Festival (ESFF), and other UK-based and international events. Additionally, Kovanova worked with the Scottish Documentary Institute and has been teaching and delivering lectures at the Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Edinburgh since 2018.