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We at BYT are no strangers to the incredible talent and perspective of local based photojournalist/anthropologist, Joshua Cogan.  In fact, over the years we’ve come to rely on Josh as our go-to expert of all things cool during FotoWeek (and for many an awe-inspiring tale of trips abroad.  We’re not jealous, no no!).  The show premieres tonight with a big shibang at Montserrat House (6-10pm), so we took a moment to catch-up with Josh, who will be joined by the likes of Eric Hilton on the decks, to show off his amazing photo-journey through Kingston, Jamaica.

(Psst.  Rumor has is Ziggy Marley will be stopping by too — told you Cogan was the coolest cat on the block!)

The work in this show is a representation of the beauty of Jamaica and its people. There are many experiences an outsider can have in Jamaica. Too often the experience is oversimplified, given to cultural tropes rehashed for tourists and consumers of its culture exports. Successive trips to the island allowed me to sink into the many layers of life. There is something about a people that have had promises made and broken one too many times. It is not a tangible sadness or defeat, but rather a bravery to go on, to live up.

The title of the show came from the mouth of a Jamaican friend during a recent trip. While driving through police checkpoints on the outskirts of Kingston, he took in the desolate landscape. He turned to me and said “Man, you have to have the heart of aLion to live here.” Street Poets abound in this place.

It is only through the bravery of its people that the true beauty of Jamaica is revealed. It is the resilience, the easiness – perhaps the only natural evolution in response to this hardened place – that gives breath to the music, soul and color. Despite its small size and seeming disadvantage, the universe conspired to create something special in Jamaica, turning rock to fertile soil. In these pictures I try to tell that truth.

I was encouraged to create this show by Eric Hilton – a shared romance for the place gave us the idea for a specially curated collection. The frames were constructed from the 100-year-old joists of Montserrat House. When I first moved to DC I often came to see reggae bands play in this space with no AC. It still has all that resonance, and I like to believe that the wood still vibrates the music back at us. Each image is signed and numbered in a series of 10.  The prints are archival inkjet on FujiChrome paper printed at the National Geographic Labs.

A portion of the proceeds from this show will go to support HIV programs back on the island. The first time I was truly able to experience the reality of life in Jamaica was through the work I did with Kwame Dawes, who was writing poetry and prose about the disease. Many of the subjects shown in these images are living with HIV and I feel it only right to find a way to return the beauty with which they graced me.

Joshua Cogan Photography – www.joshuacogan.com

Bluecadet Interactives – www.bluecadet.com