Stone Ridge-based artist plays a deep game of identity theft in her videos. Adopting the personas of iconic male figures from the last stand of the grand old patriarchy in the 50s through the early 70s, Russell appears in all her videos as herself, a pretty, well-dressed woman. Instead of adopting the disguise of, say, Richard Nixon being interviewed by Merv Griffin, Russell slyly bends the context, lip-synching Richard Nixon while looking like Pat Nixon. The effect brings the present into the past and then loops us back into the present: Russell as Russell, Russell as Nixon, Nixon's voice as Nixon, Nixon as Russell. By the end of her videos, the question arises: Just who is imitating who here? This is 21st-century art as Jose Luis Borges would make it.
The videos are part of an ongoing series by Russell which began in 2006. For her installation "I Am (Richard Nixon)" at the Center for Photography in Woodstock, Russell will be showing five videos produced over the past six years. Russell will talk at the opening reception on Saturday, January 12 at 5pm.