Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 12:11 - Project News, CommentaryIt's strange when something you've been paying attention to for a long time suddenly becomes interesting to those around you.
But Europe's ongoing refugee crisis has become large enough that even though who don't want to are paying attention. I wrote about the closing of Europe's open door recently for the World Policy Blog and talked about it on the World Policy On Air podcast. I hope you take some time to read and listen.
Monday, July 6, 2015, 08:59 - CommentaryThe events of the past few days may or may not be remembered as a turning point. The truth is no one knows how things will turn out. What we do know is that the Greek people have voted for a fairer settlement and that the ball is now in the court of Europe's leaders.
"Those who want to chase Greece out of the Eurozone today will end up on the trash heap of history. If the Chancellor wants to secure her place in the history books, just like [Helmut] Kohl did during reunification, then she must forge a solution to the Greek question, including a debt conference where we can start with a clean slate." said Thomas Piketty.
What Europe has been able to create over the last sixty years is nothing short of amazing. But that creation is very easy to destroy. Now is not the time to look for someone to blame. Rather Europe must pull back from the brink and remember that it is both more than the some of its parts and stronger together than it is apart.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 09:11 - CommentaryWhat are photographs, what are portraits but a kind of time travel machine?
Through the image we can stare across time and space and be transported, however fleetingly, to a place and time we have never been. Yet through the image we do have at least a sense of having been there.
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Monday, January 26, 2015, 09:05 - CommentaryA portrait is many things but as one photographer once told me "every photograph is a self portrait."
This project has always been about people first and foremost. Through my images and especially my portraits, I try to connect the viewer to the subject so that they may understand something about the lives these people are leading and how the river of history runs through their experiences.
So what does this say about me? Well I leave that for you to decide...
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 10:58 - Commentary
Today Iím donating a kidney to my best friend, Jimmie Briggs. This process has given me a lot to think about and in response Iíve written this.
Itís easier than receiving for most of us, letís just get that out of the way first. To give is to be lauded. To give is to have power. To receive, or rather more accurately to be in need, is to be weak and often powerless. When we give we feel generous. Afterall, they donít name buildings after those who have asked but rather after those who have, mostly after being asked, have given.
None of this makes giving any less important or necessary. Itís just to say that having to ask, as any of us who have been in that position can attest, is unpleasant. Who doesnít want to feel needed? Who doesnít want to feel as though the choice we make can save someone in however small a way?
This is a defense of receiving.
I have asked and I have received in my life. I have received without asking as well. And of course I have asked and not received. And for that I am a better person. To ask is to be weak. To ask is to be vulnerable. To ask is to acknowledge both to yourself and the person of whom you ask that you are in need.
To ask is to confront your own limitations. It is to accept your humanity because in fact we are only human in relation to one another. This means we, at some point, will be in need. No matter what the need is objectively, whatever that means, in that moment it is everything to the person who is asking.
To receive is to be delivered from the belief that we can live this life alone. It is a reaffirmation of who we are at our very core: interdependent.
It is a hard lesson to learn: that we exist not just for each other but because of one another. None of us would be here but for someone else. To understand this is one thing; to know this is quite another.
So we stand amongst each other. Giving and receiving in turn. Being grateful when we receive and feeling grateful to be able to give. We grow in the shade of one another and smile that we have had this time together.
And in the end we learn that all we have is the ability to give and take. Realizing in the end that they are, in fact, the very same thing.
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Friday, August 22, 2014, 19:54 - CommentaryNew York City
I've been back in New York for the past five weeks for an important reason.
Next week if all goes well Iíll be donating my kidney to my best friend, author and activist Jimmie Briggs. If you knew him as I do youíd want to give him your kidney too, heís that kinda of guy.
Itís not a decision Iíve come to lightly but when I found out three years ago that Jimmie and I were the same blood type I knew I had to get tested. He had advanced kidney disease and needed dialysis three times a week to stay alive.
A friend who had given me so much personal and done so much for so many others was in need. How could I stand by and simply watch?
To be human is to be in constant need. Sadly we spend so much of our lives denying this simple fact, denying the idea that not only do we from time to time need each otherís support but that on a fundamental level it is our very interconnectedness, our inescapable and fundamental need for one another than defines us. Our pride, vanity and ego get in the way of allowing us to be vulnerable, in fact to be truly who we are.
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Friday, September 6, 2013, 20:00 - CommentaryBarcelona
"Like it? No. But I have to eat," 77 year-old Erique, one of Barcelona's last knife sharpeners tells me when I ask why he continues to get up before dawn to ride his scooter around the city in search of customers. For more than forty years he has taken his mobile sharpening stand attached to his Vespa around Catalonia.
He says he continues to work because the pension available to him wouldn't support him. At the same time his customer base continues to shrink. Among the other knife sharpers all are well past retirement age. In an age of cheap knives from China that can be purchased at local stores it is hard to imagine that Enrique's profession will last much longer.
Unlike the tens of thousands of Spaniards who have fled the economic downturn fro greener, if not warmer pastures in Germany and Scandinavia men and woman like this knife sharpener are tied to their nation both by familial obligations as well as age.
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Thursday, September 5, 2013, 10:59 - Shooting, CommentaryBarcelona
For months I had been hearing a peculiar whistle sound every few weeks. After some investigation it turned out that it was one of Barcelona's few remaining knife sharpeners.
Enrique started in his profession forty years ago at the urging of an uncle. At the time he worked in a factory earning the equivalent of five to seven euros a month. On a lark he went with his uncle one Sunday and earned a quarter of his monthly wage in just a day.
Riding his antique Vespa around Barcelona he says he has to get up earlier and drive farther for the few remaining customers he has which tend to be restaurants.
When you can buy a sharp knife from Ikea for five euros why spend two euros to have that same knife sharpened when it gets dull? Enrique is just one of many Spaniards being buffeted by the winds of economic change.
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Friday, May 11, 2012, 14:08 - Commentary, Photo of the DayLondon
After a seven year absence I am back in London. When I began The Europeans my hope was not simply to capture Europe as it is but also as it changes over time. This week I returned to Parliament Square where I first met anti-war activist Brian Haw.
Brian Haw. London 2005
Sadly last year Brian died after more than ten years of spreading his message. I returned to the spot where I first met him and was pleasantly surprised to find that the movement has outlived the man.
Often I meet and photograph people having no idea of how important they are or will be to me or others. This project has been a real journey of discovery for me and perhaps more than anything has forced me to realize just how interconnected we are and the impact we have on each otherís lives.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 09:09 - Travel, Project News, Commentary, Photo of the DayBarcelona
It took me 1 year, 5 months and 10 days to return to Barcelona.
But I have returned.
"Haven't you been saying that for a while now?" Doubters would ask when I told them I was moving here. Timetables shifted, plans were delayed.
But I have returned.
It has been my experience that plans are just that and that reality has a funny way of getting in the way of even the best laid plans. But when I say I'm going to do something I do it. It might take longer than I imagine and be more difficult than I can conceive but I get it done.
So doubters, continue to doubt but look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: "is this it? Is this what my life is about, how close I will ever come to my dream?"
The answer for me is always no.
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Sunday, November 7, 2010, 22:26 - Travel, Personal, Project News, Commentary
Well I'm off for NYC once again. While my time here is done you will be seeing more images from Vienna over the coming weeks. In the meantime don't forget to visit my other blog at damaso.com/blog which I update every weekday. Until I see you again, take care!
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 10:26 - Project News, CommentaryThanks to everyone who came out to my exhibition opening in Vienna last night!
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Friday, October 29, 2010, 08:12 - Project News, CommentaryThe work for my upcoming show, Vienna From The Shadows, was featured this week on the official Leica Camera blog. Take a look if you have a chance...
Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 09:04 - Commentary, Photo of the DayAs much as we might like them to be photographs are not answers, they are questions. When I began chasing the question of how Europe is changing as the European Union expands I never expected to encounter an answer. Instead I sought to challenge my own assumptions about this place and its diverse people.
Monument. Budapest 2009
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010, 13:01 - Project News, CommentaryLong time no speak!
Singing the song. Brittany 2008.
So what have I been up to you ask? Well this and that is the real answer. Teaching, thinking and of course constantly applying for grants and fellowships not to mention plotting my return to Europe. Iím aiming for mid April, if not sooner. My goal is to make the transition as stable as possible and of course that takes resources so like a bear getting ready for winter Iím working hard and stocking up. Stay tunedÖ
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