Saturday, April 28, 2007, 03:17 - Travel, ShootingBerlin
Berlin in springtime is much nicer than in winter, that’s for sure. I have been wandering around the city with my friend Anna, who is visiting from NYC. Among other things, we have been visiting graveyards where we found some cool old fonts on the tombstones; we have been to a few museums and seen some cool art; we have toured the Berlin Wall and seen a few nice sunsets.
Apes on the Wall. © Damaso Reyes
We’ve also been taking advantage of all the nice things that a big city has to offer including having great sushi and visiting the local establishments which serve alcohol.
Che on the Wall. © Damaso Reyes
Of course I have been working, this week I photographed the Cardinal of Berlin as well as Anna Luhrmann one of the youngest members of the German Parliament. Stay tuned for photos!
A cool tombstone font. © Damaso Reyes
I want one for my house. © Damaso Reyes
Camera phones are cool. © Damaso Reyes
I am looking forward to shooting on Mayday, which I have been told can be quite exciting here in Berlin!
Sunset in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007, 14:22 - ShootingBerlin
The first time I came to Berlin last winter I was a bit underwhelmed. The Soviet architecture which dominates much of the city was a bit oppressive and the weather was cold and a bit dark. Of course now spring is in full swing and the city has truly come to life. I have spent the past few days exploring the city, mostly by foot, and have discovered some very interesting little nooks. Walking along the city’s river, the Spree, has been especially fun and I have managed to find a lot of little green areas. In short I am having way more fun than I thought I would and I hope to continue to do so.
Taking the train from Stuttgart to Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
In other news, I have begun to blog for Young Germany, a website run by the German government to encourage young people to come and work and study here in Germany. You can check out my first blog posting as well as some galleries of my photos! It should be an interesting experience, who knew I would become so prolific?
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Monday, April 23, 2007, 14:57 - PersonalBerlin
Here is a little Interlude to keep you entertained, don’t worry, I am having fun….
Lovely Dark and Deep
The view from Solitude. © Damaso Reyes
There are many things that I love about Solitude. The freedom to work at my own pace, the support I get from the staff, the wonderful cadre of other artists who are here with me. But I have unexpectedly fallen in love with the woods that surround us.
Jan Bodin walking down a trail. © Damaso Reyes
I’ve always been a city boy, I was after all born and raised in New York City. I remember taking a field trip in the 5th grade to go apple picking and when we got off the bus I commented to a teacher that the air smelled funny. “Yes,” she replied. “That’s because it’s clean,” she added. Yes we have trees in Brooklyn but I have never spent such an extended period surrounded by nature.
Spring green. © Damaso Reyes
At first the woods were mysterious and a bit overwhelming. Slowly I began to venture in, a few hundred meters at first, then slowly I began to go deeper with the help of some of the other fellows who weren’t as reserved as I was. Before long a short trip into the woods became part of my weekly routine. Then longer trips, an hour, two hours of walking the trails became a daily habit.
Water and woods. © Damaso Reyes
The woods offer a kind of peace that I hadn’t experienced before. Much like in the city you are surrounded and at the same time all alone. But in the woods often you are alone, without another person in sight. During my walks I think about my life, this project, our future together. Sometimes my mind simply wanders unable to grasp a hold to a single train of though.
Bark. © Damaso Reyes
But as I walk through these woods, lovely, dark and deep as they are I feel that I may just find what it is I am looking for if I keep walking. The forest continues to surprise and comfort me.
Nature at work. © Damaso Reyes
Forest man. © Damaso Reyes
Wildlife. © Damaso Reyes
Scary tree. © Damaso Reyes
The view from here. © Damaso Reyes
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Saturday, April 21, 2007, 12:55 - Project NewsStuttgart
Well I am off to Berlin this morning for twelve days of shooting and exploring. I hope to post fairly often but hey, I may very well be busy! So in the mean time enjoy whatever Interludes I put up here! Catch you later…..
A flea market in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 12:55 - Project NewsStuttgart
Well it’s about time!
I have finally managed to update my website with new image galleries. I know you’re so excited. You can see photographs from such exotic destinations as Berlin, Cologne and of course Stuttgart.
The Bundestag in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
But wait, there’s more…
Che on the Wall in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
You can also see images of the Bundestag in Berlin and the Landtag here in Stuttgart in my Politics gallery. I am indeed the munificent, aren’t I?
The forest near Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
Of course I have taken many more images that I still have to scan, edit and post, not to mention an upcoming trip to Berlin where I will be doing quite a number of shoots, but I promise that you will see that work far more quickly, if for no other reason than the show I have here at the end of May. But in the meantime, enjoy!
The State Parliament in Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
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Sunday, April 15, 2007, 13:13 - Personal, Project News, CommentaryStuttgart
Happy Tax Day! Yes, today is the day when many of my friends back home are rushing to ensure that they have their taxes files (actually since the date falls on a Sunday they have until tomorrow at midnight to make sure Uncle Sam get his pound of flesh).
Today also happens to be the second anniversary of The Europeans. For some strange reason I chose this day to begin my journey into the soul of Europe, boarding a plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for London. Looking back at those heady times it is amazing how far I have come.
Anti-war activist Brian Haw. © Damaso Reyes
Before I began this project it took me a long time to make the commitment to spend God-only-knows how many years traveling and photographing throughout Europe. While it might not sound like a hardship assignment, it was not something that I took on lightly. When I began this adventure I had no idea how it would be financed, nor what kinds of images I would make, after all, exactly how does one photograph the changes Europe is experiencing as the European Union expands? How does such an abstract concept manifest itself? How do you capture something so ephemeral?
I’m still trying to figure it out myself.
Waiting in Amsterdam. © Damaso Reyes
One of the most insidious concepts one learns in school, especially art school, is the idea of certainty. More often than not we are trained not to explore, to try and to fail but to follow the more certain path, the one where our natural talents lie. I remember one moment in school when I was talking to a professor in his office towards the end of a particularly challenging class. He told me, with a touch of sarcasm, that he was going to let me pass the class. I shrugged my shoulders and thanked him, but I also informed him that the reason I took this particular class was to have a chance to stretch myself, to try something new rather than just continue taking the kinds of documentary images I already knew I was good at. My new endeavor produced few results, but not for a lack of trying. In effect I had failed but I had learned a lot through the process, something my professor didn’t value as much as I did at the time.
Two years ago, as I had done so many times before, I set out on a path without knowing where it would lead. As familiar as uncertainty has become for me I nevertheless boarded that plane with a great deal of trepidation. As a photographer I never know what kinds of images I will make but that doesn’t ease the fear that in the end I will make no images at all. An irrational fear to be sure I what I fear even more is the sense that my work has become easy, that the challenge is gone and no matter what I can make great images. When that happens I will be well on the road of decline.
Destroyed Home, Kosovo. © Damaso Reyes
So what has the past two years brought? Well I have shot in the United Kingdom, Kosovo, Spain, The Netherlands and this year in Germany. I’ve shot hundreds of rolls of film so far and taken thousands upon thousands of photographs. Year one saw an incredible burst of activity and travel. Year two I only worked on the project for ten days or so, most due to lack of resources. It was a year of contemplation and reflection; downtime I feel like I learned a great deal from. As I have said many times, this project is not just about taking photographs; it is about logistics, planning and fundraising, something I have always had difficulty doing.
This year will be the most productive of all, with me shooting for perhaps ten months out of the year. I am also living in Europe full time and plan to continue to do so for the duration of the project, a necessary but important step.
It's not going to Stop! © Damaso Reyes
I feel that the project is finally reaching a critical mass, one that will allow me to work faster, travel farther and delve deeper into Europe. It is an exciting time; I finally feel that the years of planning and hard work are starting to pay off. But it is also now that I must redouble my efforts. I must work even harder to spread the message of the project and to continue to expand my support network, without whom this project would not be possible.
For those of you who read this blog regularly I would ask that you consider what you might be able to do to help the project along. Advice is always welcome, so are donations
and sponsorships. But more than anything else this project needs forceful advocates. Each of you in your own way has the power to spread the message of what I am trying to accomplish. You are influence makers, power brokers and leaders. The Europeans will only truly become successful when there are dozens of people who are as passionate about this as I am. Think about the power that you can bring to this endeavor, how together we can show Europe and the world an image of itself that it has been reluctant to see: a people united by much more than what divides them.
Waiting in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
If you dream of a world in which the desires of a few do not dominate the needs of the many, then join me. If you aspire to a life where our common values set the agenda rather than our financial interests, take up my cause. If you still believe in the power of the still image, in the power of art to move and influence our society then I ask you to join me on this journey of exploration. Finally, if you dream of the world as it could be, if you still have hope that people of good will can come together and change our society help me make that a reality.
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Thursday, April 12, 2007, 16:44 - Personal, CommentaryStuttgart
Well it has been three months since I arrived here at Solitude and it has been an intensely interesting experience both personally and artistically. It has been a time of contradictions for sure. I feel like I have worked hard and at the same time not hard enough. I feel like I have taken some great images and at the same time not nearly as many as I would like. I think I am starting to understand Germany but I also know that I am just scratching the surface of this society. Even with a long term project like this one, where I am spending years of my life photographing I feel like I might not get as deep as I would like. At the same time I understand that I am far too deep in the forest to really see the trees.
Thinking in Jakarta... © Damaso Reyes
Perhaps that is the best part of my time here: having the freedom to think, something I have been doing a lot of. I spend a lot of time thinking about the future, where I will go, what I will photograph and how I will make it happen. Before I started this project I had no earthly idea how to answer any of those question, I simply had a vision and a shaky belief in myself that I might be able to accomplish it. Nearly two years into this endeavor I am actually managing to make it happen and with the Fulbright and Burns fellowships I feel like the project is starting to get some traction with someone other than myself. But there is a long way to go…
And the next three months? Well I do have a show here at the end of May to prepare for, which will take some time. I also plan on heading to Berlin later this month and traveling and shooting as much as I can with the time I have left. But don’t worry, there will be more long walks in the woods…
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 20:07 - CommentaryStuttgart
The United Kingdom has always been proud of its ambiguous place in Europe. To paraphrase scripture, it likes to be in Europe but not of Europe. For me, two recent articles illustrate the pressures that Europe in general and the United Kingdom in particular are facing.
Muslims drink softdrinks too you know... © Damaso Reyes
The first deals with an old abandoned church which is being converted into a mosque. The second deals with the growing debate over civil liberties and security. Let me know what you think….
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Friday, April 6, 2007, 09:43 - Personal, Project NewsStuttgart
“Ask and ye shall receive” the Gospel of Matthew tells us. That’s the interesting thing about clichés, there is at least a kernel of truth in them, otherwise they would not be clichés. I suppose it is possible that the universe heard my plaintive cry about not feeling accepted and decided that Damaso deserves some validation. So to quote another cliché, when it rains, it pours…
Over the past few months, usually in the afternoon, I focused my psychic energy to some room in Vienna, where a group of distinguished people were no doubt gathered around a conference table debating the merits of different candidates. Apparently my focused thoughts, or my talent or proposal or blind luck, seems to have swayed them.
I am a Fulbright Scholar.
Yes, I am as surprised as you are.
Pretty much how I feel right now.© Damaso Reyes
I figured since there was only one slot that it was very unlikely that I would be so honored as to be selected. But next January and February I will be an artist in residence at the Museums Quartier in Vienna.
There is little doubt in my mind that this is indeed a turning point in my life, one that I have worked very hard to achieve. But to say that this success is mine and mine alone would be dishonest. Thanks go to Audrey Jonckheer at Kodak, Elinor Tatum, Publisher of the Amsterdam News, and Deb Willis, Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at NYU for writing me recommendations. I am sure that the kind words of these three strong women played no small role in securing this fellowship.
That I have been given such an honor speaks volumes about the people who have trusted and supported me over the years. I still have a long way to go but your faith in me and my project has sustained me even though the darkest of hours. It is with that faith that I continue on this winding road.
But wait, there’s more…
Just days after I learned of the Fulbright, while I was happily snapping away in Hamburg, I received an email notifying me of an additional honor. I am one of ten American journalists selected to receive an Arthur Burns Fellowship. That’s right, this summer I will be back in Germany, working for some big time publication, stirring things up. It truly is an embarrassment of riches but after hearing the word NO so many times over the years these two fellowships allow me a sigh of relief.
During one of my many walks in the woods over the past few weeks I often thought of what I would do after my time at Solitude ended. I began conjuring creative ways of keeping the project going and none of them satisfied me. Now I have a little more breathing room to continue to create. I look forward to taking full advantage!
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Wednesday, April 4, 2007, 10:10 - Project News, CommentaryStuttgart
What, you may ask, have I been doing since I have returned from Hamburg. Well beside processing 36 rolls of film in the last 36 hours, I have been trying to set up shoots for an upcoming trip to Berlin towards the end of the month. So you know what that means: endless research, endless phone calls, endless emails, I’ll spare you the details. Add the fact that apparently this week and next many Germans go on holiday because of Easter. On the one hand it will be nice to get some work done without being distracted, on the other there is a whole mess of work I won’t be able to do because no one will be around.
Anyway in addition to trolling the internet for photo shoot ideas I have been thinking about my industry and my own future. I recently read an article on PDN’s website which discussed how USA Today, the largest circulation newspaper in America, is asking more rights from its freelancers. This seems to be a never ending dance with major newspapers and magazines like the New York Times on one side and us poor freelancers on the other. Right now, and for some time to come I imagine, there will be an excess of freelance photographers out there. The big corporations clearly have numbers on their side since there always seem to be young selfish photographers out there who want to work for the big boys and don’t mind giving up their rights. Eventually the principled photographers who refused to sign the bad contract sign it in order to feed themselves.
And then the companies ask for more rights. Soon it seems like they will ask us to pay them for the privilege of being published. This is one of the aspects of the business of photography which has led me to increasingly apply for fellowships. Over the past three months I haven’t thought once about whether I can sell a photograph I have just taken, I just go about working on my project without a care in the world. Which is sort of the way it should be. At the same time I became a photojournalist in order to share my vision with as many people as I can.
It just makes me sad that corporate greed and shortsightedness is making it harder and harder…
Tuesday, April 3, 2007, 15:37 - CommentaryStuttgart
To the EU, that is. If you weren’t paying attention, the EU was more or less born on March 25th, 1957 when the Treaty of Rome was signed. Half a century later many of the goals of the signers, including a common currency and open borders, have come to fruition but the larger goal of creating a united Europe remains in some ways very much a dream.
15 Stars. © Damaso Reyes
People often ask me why I am working so hard on this project. Sure I get to travel, drink good beer and meet interesting people, but the real reason is that I believe in the idea of Europe. The EU has the potential to become not just an organization but a real force for change in the world. There are many, myself included, who are not big fans of current American foreign policy. At the same time most people feel there is little, if anything they can do to affect the status quo. But if the nations which make up the EU could put aside their differences and work together, say in the realm of foreign policy, then they could serve as an effective counterweight to what is perceived and American hegemony and push forward their own agenda of a more just world.
High over Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
There are many here in Europe who fear that closer integration will lead to a loss of identity. Such fear is natural but at the same time largely unfounded. Europe is changing no matter what, the question become just how will it change? Nations and people can retain their culture while at the same time joining into a union that is greater than themselves. The best example might be that of marriage. Yes, I know half of all marriages end in divorce but then explain to me why billions of people continue to take the plunge? It is because we still aspire to something greater than ourselves. And just as one doesn’t lose one’s identity in a healthy marriage the nations of Europe will not become a bland mélange the more integrated they become. These cultures and identities have been forged over centuries and it will probably take as long before they change, but the benefits of a closer union are there for the taking. If Europe doesn’t simply want to be a passive spectator in the world in which it lives then it will have to pool its resources and come together.
Now let’s all eat some cake.
Mmmmmm....Cake.... © Damaso Reyes
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Sunday, April 1, 2007, 18:31 - CommentaryStuttgart
In keeping with the festive nature of the date, here are some funny articles.
I know that you believe that all journalists are criminals, now here is your proof!
And since they are criminals, why not watch them be attacked by bears, cats and elephants?
© Damaso Reyes
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Friday, March 30, 2007, 02:44 - TravelStuttgart
Sorry I haven’t written in a while, when I got back from Hamburg I was laid low by a nasty little virus that pretty much kept me in bed for a few days. But now I am back in fine form!
On a World Tour. Global NO2 pollution map for 2006. Photo courtesy of ESA/KNMI/IASB
On my way back from Hamburg I stopped in Darmstadt for a meeting at ESA, the European Space Agency, which has its Space Operations Center there. Ever since I was a kid, I was always fascinated by the stars so it was very exciting to have an opportunity to visit the place where the satellites are controlled and missions are planned. Special thanks to Nicola Gebers de Sousa for taking me on an exciting tour. This was just a preliminary meeting so sadly there are no photos but stay tuned in the coming months…
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007, 01:20 - ShootingHamburg
There are days when my job, as great as it is, is difficult. Days where I stand in the rain, a piercing wind slicing through me. Days where I walk for miles to nowhere, alone with only a heavy camera bag to console me.
Then there are days like today where I get to photograph a really cool brain surgery and that I am sure that I have the coolest job in the world. Today I visited the operating room of the Neurophysiology department of the University of Hamburg-Eppendorf. Big thanks to Dr. Engel, director of the department and Dr. Moll for letting photograph his OR. These doctors are doing cutting edge work placing small electrodes in the brain to counteract the devastating effects of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s Disease. The patient was awake the whole time as the doctors used a tiny probe to find the area of the brain that was causing the trouble and the optimal location for the electrodes. It was amazing to see the results on the patient, who had a severe tremor in his hands and legs as they passed a small current into his brain. The shaking subsided and eventually stopped altogether.
Watching the probe. © Damaso Reyes
Millimeter, by Millimeter they go deeper. © Damaso Reyes
40mm deep. © Damaso Reyes
© Damaso Reyes
Sistine. © Damaso Reyes
Test. © Damaso Reyes
In & Out. © Damaso Reyes
Another Small Hole in the Head. © Damaso Reyes
Neurosurgeon's Have Style. © Damaso Reyes
Dr. Reyes (for a day) © Damaso Reyes
We are really living in the future!
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Friday, March 23, 2007, 18:42 - Travel, Shooting, PersonalHamburg
Well I have to say that Hamburg is pretty amazing. I am having a great time, taking photos and running around town. I am lucky enough to be staying with my friend Ewa, who I met at Solitude during a symposium a few months ago.
Today I shot at the Port of Hamburg, much thanks to Christian at the port for facilitating the trip. Hamburg is the second biggest port in Europe and the largest by far in Germany, bringing tens of thousands of containers into the country every day and shipping them out as well. That Porsche you drive probably came through the Port of Hamburg. The day started cold but clear as we drove along the warehouses and cranes to the slip where a recently docked ship form China was being unloaded. As you can imagine the scale of everything at the Port is huge from the 40 foot containers to the 40 meter cranes that unload the ships which are longer than football fields. Giant blue container moving cars zip along the wharves looking like something out of a Lego set gone crazy. Containers were sacked six high, creating instant neighborhoods of corrugated steel. The little kid in me loves all the big trucks and ships and I had a wonderful time photographing them, at least until the rain and wind picked up towards the end of the afternoon, but my long underwear and waterproof Mountain Hardwear coat, pants and hat kept me warm and dry throughout.
An ocean of containers. © Damaso Reyes
My ship has come in. © Damaso Reyes
Up and Away. © Damaso Reyes
Big Wheel, Keep on Turning... © Damaso Reyes
Container Movers. © Damaso Reyes
Temporary City. © Damaso Reyes
Today is also a happy anniversary for me as well. Twelve years ago I truly began my journey as a socially conscious adult. That warm day in March I went to my first demonstration, where thousands of students from the City University of New York had gathered to protest rising tuitions. City Hall Park in lower Manhattan was jammed with placard waving and chanting young college students. I was there with my camera and documented it all including when the police broke up the end of the demonstration. I felt alive, excited by the energy of the students and the passion with which they protested. I became in the movement myself giving speeches and organizing demonstrations and that day set me on the road of journalism with the idea that a few, motivated people can change the world. Every year I think about that day and how different my life might be if I hadn’t gone downtown that day. Life is full of twists and turns and I when I look back at my short life I am amazed at where I have been and how far I have come. I feel lucky to be living a life without limits, one where I can go as far as my talent and passion can take me.
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