Maxwell Cozzi experienced profound loss at a young age when his father unexpectedly collapsed one afternoon and died on the kitchen floor. In Open Sky, Cozzi quietly explores the indelible emotional mark left by abrupt parental death. As opposed to directly addressing his specific past, the photographer re-stages an odd, yet resonant encounter with a mallard duck who strayed from his flock. Recounting the incident, Cozzi speaks of an evening walk through his hometown of Lake Geneva during which he noticed a single duck situated in the middle of the road. He slowly approached the bird, joining him in the street and eventually forging a curious bond with the solitary creature as they quietly sat together. When the sound of a distant speeding car prompted Cozzi to retreat to the adjacent sidewalk, he was left to watch, helplessly, as the duck, frozen in position, met his untimely end. Alluding to this strange yet sorrowful account, Cozzi’s work presents a poignant parallel to the artist’s relationship to his father’s passing.

From the changing of seasons, the turnover and replacing of domestic objects, and the sometimes slippery hold we have on memories, this body of work continuously gestures towards the cycle of life. Through an abstract photographic essay about a chance communion with and mourning of a duck, which is itself a metaphor for a much larger personal tragedy, Open Sky allows Cozzi to express his emotions through layers of mediated remove. And as we bear witness to Cozzi’s own mining of grief, we are simultaneously offered an opportunity to think introspectively about our own histories of loss.

Excerpt from Leah Kolb's exhibition essay From Memory to Metaphor

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