Friday, March 29, 2024

A journey into the COZMOS on 10th Street

Photos and interview by Stacie Joy 

Since debuting last August, COZMOS has hosted an array of eclectic events from its retail storefront space at 280 E. 10th St. just west of Avenue A... starting with a conversation with longtime East Village photographer-artist Steven Hirsch.

Aside from more traditional art exhibits (such as the current showing of East Village photographer Daniel Root's "The Bars We've Lost series), there have been sessions on the art of dream interpretation and a musical event with improvisational dance and an oboe recital.

The retail side of the business is just as eclectic, with a particular emphasis on perfume and scented products. 

I recently met with co-owners Anton Relin (left below) and Vlad Makarkin to learn more about COZMOS.
Anton: Vlad and I met at college. I'm originally from Florida, and he is from Siberia. We connected in a class about Chekhov and ended up having a variety of projects, including bringing Russian opposition members to Philadelphia. 

We came up with the name because we wanted to capture the hopefulness of the moon landing — a moment when everyone came together and was hopeful for the future of humanity. The space age impacted me because I grew up just a few hours outside Cape Canaveral and would stand outside and see every rocket launch there. 

The COZMOS is also the universe, and there is so much that we want to encapsulate. I'd like for us to be hopeful for the future again. Perhaps it's a bit naive, but I think that we can regain hope if we enjoy more moments together in person.

For me, this space is my personal vendetta against the digital world we live in — for the brands in the space, I want to build an alternative to marketing online. Through that, I want to sponsor the arts we have in the neighborhood. 

I've lived in the East Village for a short while now and can say that I love this neighborhood. Like so many other neighborhoods in NYC, we are losing, piece by piece, what makes it special. Lucy's was a big piece of what made the neighborhood special. Ludwika represents the fabric of the immigrant community of the LES, a stalwart immigrant business owner who has contributed to the culture and nature of the neighborhood for over 40 years. 

We celebrated the opening of one of our last exhibits, "Connected COZMOS," at Lucy's. Now, during our current exhibit, we eulogize it and the other bars our neighborhood has lost

As the cultural landscape gets erased, we lose what makes neighborhoods special, but perhaps, with a little trying, we can preserve and even grow what we have left. 

Do we want to expand? I want the model to expand — in my perfect world, there would be at least one space in every neighborhood that works to preserve that neighborhood's history and culture. And then, perhaps we can help save what makes every community unique.
Vlad: My aspirations and dreams for COZMOS are very similar to Anton's. 

Anton and I have been friends for almost 10 years, and last summer, we finally launched COZMOS together. Previously, we spent a lot of time working with digital companies, and we both got scared by the trends we were observing. 

Personally, I've never been a fan of digital. I never really used social media. I got my first-ever smartphone in college. I went on a scholarship to spend my last two years of high school at an alternative boarding school in the middle of a Canadian forest, with no phones allowed — and those were some of the best years of my life.

With increasingly more resources going towards digital, I hope there is still room and desire to explore the real world. This is what COZMOS is for me — a place to explore real life, an anti-metaverse, the universe. We make this possible by helping companies tell their stories in real life inside our space, and these companies provide us with resources to run events that celebrate real life. 

As for my relationship with the East Village, COZMOS is the primary reason I moved here. Before, Anton and I spent a lot of time discussing the best place for COZMOS, and while Anton was always rooting for the EV, I was initially hesitant. 

But the moment I set foot inside Tompkins Square Park, I knew COZMOS had to start here — the people and energy felt very fitting for what we ventured to build. We were lucky enough to find a small storefront for rent right by the park at the corner of 10th and Avenue A. 

Living and running COZMOS in the East Village has exceeded my expectations. We've met many wonderful people who just walked into our store and became part of COZMOS through the artistic projects we put together in our space. Outside COZMOS, I have experienced, seen, and felt so much just by walking around the neighborhood. 
COZMOS is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Check out their future events here. (The Daniel Root photography is up through Sunday.) Use this link to follow them on Instagram.


Liam R said...

These guys. I like these guys.

yetanothercommenter said...

COZMOS is a great space. They really want to amplify what's good and unique in local culture.

Nico said...

Vlad and Anton are awesome. I love working with them