Cozette Russell—lens based artist + writer

Light Into Touch,
Movement Into Light


Would she be happier with another kind of life? The question obsesses her.

From The Years, Annie Ernaux, 2008 

Double Vision

One November afternoon just before Thanksgiving, she found herself in a Harvard Square café having coffee with an ex-boyfriend. She was twenty-three weeks pregnant at the time and would have customarily dodged the text he’d sent wanting to meet up, but it caught her in a moment of nostalgia, which made her curious.

They met on the second floor of a quiet café and caught up like old friends. He was visiting from the west coast. She’d forgotten what a good storyteller he was. And then there was the moment, the beginning of a fracture in her, which she’d only recently begun to make sense of. He had joked about how she used to scam the public city bus, and she looked at him blankly. She had no idea what he was talking about. He persisted. That thing you did, you don’t remember? I have no idea what you’re talking about. I think you have me confused with someone else? Remember when you didn’t have enough money and would tear a dollar bill in half. You’d fold over the half and make it look like a whole folded bill, then cram it into the fare jar when you boarded?

A prickly feeling began to rise, and the faintest memory was retrieved from somewhere dark and quiet. Had this been her? Yes. Did she use to do things like that? Yes. She remembered it now. Where had that memory gone? A tiny detail from her life, her mid-twenties, thinking she was living on the edge. A detail that felt so detached from the woman she’d become fifteen years later that she felt disoriented having remembered it. This woman in the present was married, owned a house, poured through lifestyle blogs, and spent the last few years filling her life with things. And when her pregnancy didn’t come easily, there was heartbreak to fill too. She’d lost track of her goals and the life she desired. The woman she’d been fifteen years before did things because they were intense and beautiful, or perhaps for the pleasure of seeing what would happen next. Pushing at the edges until they frayed, creating rather than consuming. But as she had moved into this material life, and now with her child growing in her belly, she was stunned that a memory could be so forgotten, so lost, then suddenly, in an encounter, retrieved. 

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Cozette Russell is a process-driven, lens-based artist who makes work centered around the psychological landscape of family, disability, feminism, and motherhood. She explores these themes through text, sculpture, and movement in her photography practice. She’s interested in how the solitary studio experience merges with the pulsing energy of the outside world and she explores duality across many axes: light and dark, vision and blindness, future and past. She’s especially drawn to where these tides meet—when incoming meets outgoing. Is it a moment of surrender or resistance?