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Video for Girls Gotta Run.org

I recently completed my first film which was funded by a 2014 grant I received from Getty Images and Lean-In.org.  The piece was made for Girls Gotta Run, a nonprofit organization out of Washington D.C. that facilitates running clubs in Southern Ethiopia for young women.  The video was crafted to be watched as one runs on a treadmill and to immerse the runner into the rural Ethiopian countryside, placing the viewer alongside the girls as they complete a 5k run.  It has an Ethiopian musical soundtrack, information about the organization as well as historical facts about Ethiopia throughout.  Within the 30 minutes are also two short videos I shot as well, one on the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony and another on the Ethiopian Jewish Community.

Please share with any runners you know and let me know how it goes!

Joshua

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Video on the Ethiopian coffee ceremony

In Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, the daily drinking of this ancient beverage is part of a ritualized cultural ceremony rich in history and sometimes hours in length. The beans are freshly roasted, incense is burned and multiple cups are passed around.  The 30 minute video I recently completed for an Ethiopian nonprofit has this 2 minute video about the ceremony with-in it.  Check it out and share with any coffee freaks who might enjoy.

Here is an excerpt from a well written piece from Food 52 about the ceremony.

“Ethiopian Buna (Coffee) Ceremony is a long process, averaging around 1.5 hours. While these coffee ceremonies can be an everyday occurrence, a major purpose is to come to a certain important conclusion — someone asking for a hand in marriage or looking for resolution to a conflict that cannot otherwise be solved. 

First, a fire is built to roast the coffee beans. When the coffee has roasted, the woman who’s preparing it — dressed to the nines, by the way — carries the metal pot that the coffee’s roasting in around the room so that everyone can capture the aromas. Think of when a sommelier asks you to approve a glass of wine at a restaurant — if it’s not up to par, you can send it back. 

The first cup enjoyed during the ceremony is known as Abol. This is the strongest cup, and therefore has the most significance. If you’re looking to resolve a conflict, you must show up during this stage — anytime afterwards during the ceremony would be pointless. 

The second cup is known as Tona: water is added to the cup but it still maintains a significant amount of strength. If a resolution isn’t reached by the second cup, then a third cup does not happen. 

The third cup of the coffee ceremony is Baraka: it’s the weakest cup, but it symbolizes acceptance, resolution, and joy. People celebrate at this cup, and the younger generation is often invited to drink that cup.

I was honored to receive the  Getty Images/Lean-In grant which took me to Ethiopia to work for a female-centric nonprofit.  I then went on to work with Green Mountain Coffee and do some personal projects.

Stay tuned!

Joshua

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Ethiopian Coffee Country

In January of 2015 I spent a week photographing  in the Ethiopian coffee regions for Green Mountain Coffee.  Here is a small sampling of the 3000 images I made.  The job called for mostly landscapes (to be used on the boxes of a new product) but I couldn’t help but to capture the workers as well and also show the processing of the beans.

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J’Ouvert in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. New York City’s greatest folkloric festival.

All Text from “J’ouvert in Brooklyn Carnival: Revitalizing Steel Pan and Ole Mas Traditions”. Author: Ray Allen

“The rumble of distant drums rolls across Prospect Park, breaking the pre-dawn tranquility that envelops central Brooklyn on Labor Day morning.My watch says 4 a.m.-the J’Ouvert celebration must be underway. Quietly slipping out of my apartment into the cool of the night, I note the irony of being late for Carnival, an event that by nature defies time. Still,I quicken my pace, cutting across the park, drawn towards the percussive din and faint strains of steel pan. Emerging near the zoo entrance on Flatbush Avenue, I come face to face with a group of devils.

IMG_0012“The devils, along with hundreds of less elaborately clad partygoers, are ‘jumping up” and “wining down” to the Pantonic’s rendition of the popular calypso “In My House.” The band and dancers pulse as one, inching down the road toward Empire Boulevard, then bumping up against the Adlib Steelband and merging into a mile-long sea of humanity.”IMG_0089 IMG_0103

IMG_0081“As the nighttime slips into dawn, the J’Ouvert procession lurches down Nostrand Avenue, past Gloria’s Roti Shop (Watch this video with the Wire actors and Anthony Bourdain!) and Alan’s Caribbean Bakery, and finally begins to wind down. I catch my breath, and like thousands of other participants, wonder if I will have the energy to make it up to Eastern Parkway later that afternoon for the main Carnival event.”IMG_0055 IMG_0110 IMG_0141 IMG_0192 IMG_0133 IMG_0135 IMG_0148

“In Brooklyn, home to the largest West Indian community outside the
Caribbean and host to a Labor Day Carnival that draws close to two million
participants each year, J’Ouvert is a relatively new phenomenon. Over the
past decade Brooklyn’s J’Ouvert has grown from small groups of Dimanche
Gras (Fat Sunday) revelers to a massive predawn celebration attracting
nearly 100,000 steelband and old mas enthusiasts. This inquiry will trace
the emergence of Brooklyn’sJ’Ouvert festival in the larger context of New
York Carnival, and consider the event’s role in the revitalization of older
Carnival traditions in Brooklyn’s Trinidad-American community.”

“For the moment J’Ouvert remains a grassroots celebration of Trinidadian
pan, calypso, and ole mas–deep cultural symbols that offers transplanted Trinidadians and their American-born children the possibility of connecting across space to their native homeland, and back in time to their African ancestors who processed through the streets of Port of Spain with drums and Camboulay torches to celebrate their independence from slavery. But if novelist and social critic Earl Lovelace is correct in contending that the “Emancipation-Jouvay spirit” has the power to transform official Carnival into “a stage for the affirmation of freedom and the expression of the triumphing human spirit,” then Brooklyn J’Ouvert may serve as a source of inspiration not only for Trinidadian immigrants, but for all Afro-Caribbean New Yorkers who struggle to assert their humanity and self worth in their new North American home.”

A couple videos of the processions of steel drum bands.

Please note, as J’Ouvert gets hammered in the press for the violence that happens around it, note the elders in this next video simply rejoicing in their home countries folkloric and aged traditions.

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Walking the streets of Addis Ababa is extremely dangerous!

Ethiopia is a million different things and tastes, affronts, foibles and wonders.  One thing it was not was a place you felt threatened by personal violence.  Ethiopians were fun, interested, helpful and cool.  Ethiopia is considered to be one of the safest countries for tourists in Africa.No muggings, no assaults, no rape, etc.. But, taking a stroll on the sidewalks of Addis Ababa is a completely different story.  One must be hyper-vigilant and incredibly in tune with their environs as at any moment a giant gaping hole may lay underfoot.  These tombs-to-be are deep and dark, some studded with jagged metal rods waiting to impale you and very in size. Some will just destroy a knee.  Others will swallow you whole and your family calling the consulate.  The lack of streetlights doesn’t help your sad cause.  They just sit quietly in wait, hoping your absentmindedly wondering if your bowels are going to explode before you arrive at your hotel or if you’ll be denied that needed Visa extension and get thrown in jail when exiting the country or how the current government can say they honestly received 100% vote of a recent election or what really qualifies as a colonization as pizza is almost as popular as injera.  If these suckers don’t get you the traffic will.  Look 100 ways before crossing any street.

Here are some examples of these urban pits of doom that I just barely survived.
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And this photo below is directly across from the Ethiopian Governmental Affairs office where I spent too many stressful days getting my visa extensions.  Goats graze just off camera right. SidewalkSinkhole_AddisAbaba_JKristal©_2015_011




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Post-Pride celebration in New York City.

My second favorite night of the year (my first) is the post-parade Pride celebration which usually takes place on the Piers of the West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan.  The NYPD seem to be limiting that spot more and more so this year the streets bore the colorful, messy and lusty brunt of this rather bacchanalian celebration. Mostly composed of lesbians and transgendered people of color, tens of thousands of revelers drink, flirt, smoke blunts, grope and dance into the night.  That is, until the mounties clomp in to ruin everything.  But, until then, it’s seemingly a free for all and it’s positively sublime.

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An abandoned disco/casino in Diani Beach, Kenya.

Film images from a short trip to Kenya

An abandoned disco/casino in Diani Beach, Kenya.

An abandoned disco/casino in Diani Beach, Kenya.

After three months in Ethiopia (https://instagram.com/joshuakristal/) I was in bad need of some beach time.  Diani Beach, which is two hours from Mombassa, Kenya on the Indian Ocean was bucolic, relaxing, affordable and the scuba and snorkeling was damn good. It was working as I could feel my brain sinking into a more relaxed state but my cerebral decompression time was cut short by a poor mans safari I took in the Tsavo West National Park.  I stayed at a unique lodge that was about 40 feet in the air and, as they provided water for the animals, it was more like staying in a zoo.  Zebras, elephants, water buffalo and monkeys all made their way to the lobby area to drink and jostle.

At an abandoned disco in Diani Beach, Kenya.

At an abandoned disco in Diani Beach, Kenya.

On Lake Awassa, Ethiopia, the boats carry guns to, I presume, fight off the attack a hippo.

On Lake Awassa, Ethiopia, the boats carry guns to, I presume, fight off the attack from a hippo.

Dolphin rising in the Kisite National Marine Park in the Indian Ocean hours from Diani Beach.

Dolphin rising in the Kisite National Marine Park in the Indian Ocean hours from Diani Beach.

While scuba diving I had a bit of a panic and slammed my hand down on some coral. It started to bleed instantly and now, about a month later it is healing, rather slowly and still itchy. Coral is crazy business. Not as crazy though as the site of older European obese women with hot, muscular young African men strolling hand and hand on the beach. So great to see, stoked for them. (This movie chronicled this phenomena native to Kenya.)

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Long exposure at sunset on Diani Beach.

Long exposure at sunset on Diani Beach.

Indian Ocean sail.

Indian Ocean sail.

Tsavo West National Park.

Tsavo West National Park.

Salt Lick Lodge in Tsavo West National Park.

Salt Lick Lodge in Tsavo West National Park.

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From your bed at the Salt Lick Lodge in Tsavo West National Park you can watch herds of animals coming to take advantage of the provided water.  Pretty surreal.

From your bed at the Salt Lick Lodge in Tsavo West National Park you can watch herds of animals coming to take advantage of the provided water.

 

 

Animal market

The markets of Aksum, Ethiopia.

Been in Ethiopia for a month now and recently returned from the north. Aksum, which 2000 years ago, was the helm of an African empire, was where Queen Sheba reportedly comes from and where Christianity was introduced to Africa only 6 years after that willy Jew got whisked back up to Gods bosom, was wind swept, cobblestone street laden and full of life.

The main market of Aksum on its busy Saturday morning.

The main market of Aksum on its busy Saturday morning.

From inside a perfect little cafe in the market playing the BBC and pouring great coffee and a funky breakfast of pieces of ripped up bread soaked in hot pepper past then topped with scrambled eggs and serious yogurt (serious being still and very fermenting home brewed variety).

From inside a perfect little cafe in the market playing the BBC and pouring great coffee and a funky breakfast of pieces of ripped up bread soaked in hot pepper paste then topped with scrambled eggs and serious yogurt (serious being still and very fermented home brewed variety).

TukTuk mechanic after work.

TukTuk mechanic after work.

At this old cafe a man leans his head on a 2000 year old irrigation pillar that was left there by the Italians as they pillaged Aksums antiquities.

At this old cafe a man leans his head on a 2000 year old irrigation pillar that was left there by the Italians as they pillaged Aksums antiquities.

African sound system

African sound system

Tej, homemade honey wine at a Tej bar.

Tej, homemade honey wine at a Tej bar.

Tej bar patron.  Note the rebar with goatskin cane.

Tej bar patron. Note the rebar with goatskin cane.

from the tuktuk

from the tuktuk

Traditional Ethiopian greeting from a tuktuk

Traditional Ethiopian greeting from a tuktuk

Camel crossing.

Camel crossing.

Blind begger working his mojo.

Blind begger working his mojo.

Orthodox on the tele.

Orthodox on the tele.

These incredible mud molded injera container tops were gorgeous.

These incredible mud molded injera container tops were gorgeous.

Market scene of women selling their grains.

Market scene of women selling their grains.

Onto the animal market.

Onto the animal market.

Animal market.

Animal market.

Inter species harmony

Inter species harmony

Aksum back streets denizen

Aksum back streets denizen

Market

Market

Animal market

Animal market

Animal market

Animal market

Early morning market scene.

Early morning market scene.

Selling grains.

Selling grains.

SfDM invite

Show at the Society for Domestic Museology

      I am currently showing two series of work (its still up for anyone who wants to check it out) at a cool little gallery on the Upper West Side in NYC.   A series from a baby beauty pageant as well as a series documenting sites where people have been lynched are on display.  

SfDM inviteThe micro-gallery is actually in my friends apartment.  The Society for Domestic Museology resides in the living room of Heather and Joel Topcik’s apartment on 59th and 8th avenue.  The gallery was devised for a number of reasons: One, a cunningly brilliant way to get free art rotating through the home of the Topcik’s. Secondly, to provide a platform for artistso display their work and be the impetus for a salon where the artist and attendees engage in a lively, thought provoking discussion.  I am the third artist to be exhibited at SfDM.  

FrederickJermaineCarter_Print       The first body of work on display is from a series I did on lynching.  The concept of the series consists of revisiting historical sites of racial violence and also document what is happening in these places currently.  It is done in an attempt to memorialize the people who lost their lives there in these extra-judicial tragedies.  Ideally the series will serve as a way to have these locations rolled into the Civil Rights Memorial Highway or Federally/State run battleground memorial sites each tree bearing the name of whom and when an innocent person was killed there. 

Here is an excerpt about the lynching series from Heather’s article on the show.  Full article here.

“Southernscapes, Joshua’s installation for the SfDM, consists of two series, one black and white, one color, both taken during a road trip through the American South in 2011.  The trip was inspired by James Allen’s 2001 book, Without Sanctuary, documenting the disturbing visual legacy of postcards and photographic souvenirs taken at public lynchings in the United States between 1882 and 1950.  Deeply moved by this tragic history, Joshua set out to find some of the sites where lynchings had occurred in order to memorialize these now-anonymous places that have faded back into the landscape, a willfully forgotten chapter in our nation’s past.  Each photograph depicts a place where a specific lynching occurred — a tree in front of a Shreveport courthouse, a field along an Arkansas highway, a railroad bridge in Alabama, an oak tree in Mississippi. The name of the victim and the year of the lynching are written below each image, the most recent of which occurred in 2010. At first glance, these photographs are remarkable for their tranquility — and, in contrast to much of Joshua’s work, the absence of people in the frame. The portraits of the trees, in particular, are regal and betray no hint of the brutality that haunts them. With nothing to commemorate the lives taken there, these sites occupy a secret history unknown to those who may pass by. Inspired by the Emmett Till Memorial Highway in Mississippi, commemorating the Chicago teenager murdered in 1955 for allegedly flirting with a white woman, Joshua aims to create a similar memorial to these events in the belief that reckoning with this history and its victims is a necessary step toward collective healing.”

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The small image above is from Without Sanctuary.  It’s an incredible and disturbing but important book that was used as reference material for my project. Below is the image I made in the exact spot where this lynching occurred in 1906.  BunkRichardsonPrint

The other series on display was from a baby beauty pageant I shot in Vicksburg, Mississippi.  I thought this series is relevant to the mission of the SfDM in how living with the art affects the family on a daily basis-this is one of the core concepts of the gallery.  The Topcik’s have two young daughters so the ideas of femininity, sexuality and notions of beauty are ones they are starting to deal with on a daily basis and thats what this body of work addresses. 

Print2Here is another excerpt from Heathers piece on the Baby Beauty Pageant series:

“In contrast to the solemnity of the lynching series, the four photos that make up the Baby Beauty Pageant series are all color and tackiness; yet they depict a more subtle violence.  During his southern sojourn, Joshua happened upon a baby beauty pageant in a small town in Mississippi.  After talking his way into the event and roaming for about an hour, he was ejected by officials, but not before capturing some compelling moments.  These images depict the kind of crude enforcement of the gender roles that appear marginal and quirky in a small town beauty pageant like this one, yet as Frank Rich describes in his 1997 essay on our national obsession with JonBenet Ramsay, beauty pageants like these are big business in the U.S. and the themes and messages about gender and sexuality as acted out by their tiny participants have made their way into the culture writ large.”

Print4a Print3One of the most engaging and enjoyable aspects of the SfDM shows is the salon that takes place during the opening (as well as the myriad of delectable food that Joel always crafts, this one being Southern themed).  I passed around Without Sanctuary and discussed my trip and reasons for the work.  Then a lively discussion ensued on this disturbing and unreckoned part of our countries history.  We then lightened it up with the beauty pageant series which turned out to be also depressing.  Another excerpt from Heather’s article on the salon.  She is a modern day Gertrude Stein, god bless her.

“In our comfortable domestic setting, the theme of the conversation that evening was violence, from the overt violence of the public lynchings to the subtle violence that happens when you dress up your toddler in a ball gown and tiara (or a bathing suit!) and parade her down the catwalk.  My favorite thing about these openings has been the conversation that happens around the work. What starts as a party with food, drinks, and small talk evolves into an earnest discussion about art and ideas, devoid of irony.  The kind that can be hard to find sometimes.”