Back in Berlin 
Monday, July 30, 2007, 15:18 - Travel


Berlin

Ich bin Hier!

After two and a half days of bonding with my fellow fellows in Virginia I boarded a plane and headed off to the Bundesrepublik. As is usual, I couldn’t sleep so by the time I arrived I was quite tired (off course staying up till three in the morning “discussing” trans-Atlantic relations didn’t help either).

So here I am at the home of a friend of one of the German fellows until my room is ready on August 1st. I slept, showered and now am about to go and eat, exciting isn’t it? I just found out that I don’t start work until Friday so I thankfully have a few days to get adjusted and settle in before the excitement starts.

Have no doubt that this will be a challenge. After all I have spent the last seven months doing whatever I pleased whenever it pleased me. What will it be like to be in an office environment? Of course I hope to be out in the field as much as possible but I go into this experience with an open mind, hoping that I can learn as much as is possible.

It is cold and rainy here. I wish the warm embrace of my hometown but I know that there is something waiting for me here, something that I can’t quite see but I can imagine in my mind’s eye. The future, as ever, is an open road, one that I continue to enjoy walking down….

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Home Again.... 
Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 19:31 - Travel, Project News
New York City


© Damaso Reyes

I am sitting on a train at Pennsylvania Station waiting to go to Washington for an orientation for my Burns Fellowship. It has been an exciting twelve days here in the Big Apple, my only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer. I rode the Cyclone at Coney Island; I had sushi, Thai, and Indian food. I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. I went to the Museum of Modern Art.

I bought a Leica camera!

Yes, the dream has come true and special thanks to Ken Hanson for help making it happen. Even as we speak my two film SLR cameras are sitting back in Brooklyn, only the digital camera keeps me from fully being in the world of rangefinders. I have shot a few rolls and so far it looks great. What is perhaps truly amazing is the aura that the camera gives me. No, it is not that people are impressed by it, in fact I have concealed the camera’s true identity with black tape. No, there is some about the small German machine that eliminates anyone’s objections to me taking their photograph. Time and again I stood a meter away for someone and while they registered my presence, when they saw they camera they simply shrugged, as if to say “well it is just a little camera.” Never before have I felt such freedom of movement. I think I will have a very good time over the coming years.

Now of course I want more.

So now I am off to our nation’s capital for a few days before heading to the Federal Republic. Having spent six months there already I feel like I know something of what I am getting myself into but since I will actually be working during the day and speaking not a little German, it will be different. How, I am not sure but as you well know uncertainty has been my constant companion so why should I leave it behind now?

The night before I leave Stuttgart I was up late packing and cleaning my studio. I finally finished at close to 2 in the morning and I decided to walk around a bit outside. I circled the castle and made my way to the edge of the forest. The moon was nowhere to be found and only the light was the distant illumination provided by the city. I stood at the edge of the forest, at the threshold of a path that I had walked dozens of times before.

There was little that could be seen except the silhouette of the trees against the sky. I stood there for a time, staring into the forest and looking at the path which was all but invisible in the inky blackness of the quiet night. I continued my vigil and ever so slowly the dim outline of a path begun to revel itself to me.

I looked at the path, still dark, still mostly obscured and stared at the very same time at my own life. I stood at the edge and could not see very far at all but I knew the path was still there; I had walked it before, there was nothing to fear even if the exact shape of things to come could not be discerned. I smiled with that secret knowledge tucked safely away and returned for one last night in my studio before returning home.


And now I once again find myself leaving, heading down that darkened path, which I hope will eventually lead to a sunny glade…

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Sommerfest 
Monday, July 9, 2007, 00:36 - Events
Stuttgart

Well yesterday we had our annual Sommerfest here at Solitude and it was quite an experience. Food, music, performances and of course lots of art on display all over the place. We even sold off many of the photographs that I had been exhibiting and raised money for both the Akadamie and The Europeans. Later there was dancing until the wee small hours of the morning…






The question that everyone was asking... © Damaso Reyes

And now I must prepare to head back to New York. Still have some scanning left to do as well as packing, but I am very excited about seeing my friends and family and eating in my favorite places. But I will miss my long walks in the woods and visits to the mineral baths here in Stuttgart.




The answers visitors left... © Damaso Reyes

I am looking forward to the two months I will spend in Berlin where I will work at Vanity Fair Deutschland as part of my Burns Fellowship. It should be an exciting time and no doubt I will have a chance to practice my German on a daily basis!

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The End is Nigh 
Tuesday, July 3, 2007, 14:59 - Personal
Stuttgart

Well it has been nearly six months and my time here at Solitude is growing short. I suppose that I have been missing this place as long as I have been here but the peace and tranquility that I have experienced since I have arrived will be difficult to replicate. At the same time I am looking forward to coming home again in just a few short days. New York is always most exciting during those first few days after your step off the plane. Since I was born there I will never know the thrill of flying into New York for the first time so this is as close as I can get…


Geneva's main train station. © Damaso Reyes

This time in my life has been important for many reasons, perhaps least of which are the many photographs I have taken. More important I think is the mental development that has occurred since I have been here. I have refined my shooting style and process. I have discovered a rhythm that I hope will carry me though the rest of my time here in Europe. I am making the transition from heavy SLR cameras to lighter rangefinders.

Six months ago I felt as though I had just begun this project; today I will as though I am deep inside of it. As usually happens when I shoot a great deal I fell refreshed and inspired. I have a thousand new ideas of what to photograph and am excited about the possibilities that the future holds.

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Objects of Desire 
Wednesday, June 27, 2007, 15:48 - Project News
Stuttgart

Recently I had a chance to update The Wish List, feel free to have a look!

I went through and thought about my current needs and since I am in the process of making the switch from SLRs to rangefinder cameras, there were several things on the list that I have deleted and a few things that I have added.


A Leica 35mm lens

There are lots of ways to support The Europeans and donating something from The Wish List is a great one!

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Life is one big party.... 
Sunday, June 24, 2007, 14:33 - Shooting
Stuttgart

Friday and Saturday I went to the Württembergischer Kunstverein where Dr. Cornelia Lund and Dr. Holger Lund of Fluctuating Images gallery here in Stuttgart were curating a series of events exploring the relationship between parties and art. On these two days they invited DJs as well as multimedia artists to come and put on a show, here are a few images from the two nights…


Intensity... © Damaso Reyes


Shadows... © Damaso Reyes

Otherwise things have been pretty quiet. I am processing the 40 odd rolls of film that have accumulated in my studio over the past few weeks as well as trying to enjoy what is left of my time here at Solitude. In August I will start my two month Burns Fellowship where I will be working at Vanity Fair Germany in Berlin. I am very much looking forward to spending a few months in Germany’s capital city and I hope I have a chance to do some travelling while working on stories.




Dancing Queen... © Damaso Reyes

It has been a productive 5 ½ months here and I feel that the project is on very firm footing. Of course looking at the images I have produced thus far reminds me of how much further I have left to go but at least I feel as though I am on the right path. In the meantime, I am looking forward to the 12 days I will spend back in NYC where I hope to eat as much good food and see as many of my friends as I can! The countdown has begun…










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Back to School 
Wednesday, June 20, 2007, 15:04 - Travel, Shooting, Commentary
Schömberg

I made my way back to the Schömberg Children’s Clinic to photograph the small school that they have for the patients. From the first time I heard about it I was very interested in photographing the teachers and students, much thanks to Dr. Uwe Petruch for arranging this visit for me.


Adrian gets a little help... © Damaso Reyes

Someone recently asked me why I was photographing at the hospital and I feel that they were not satisfied by my answer. I get the question WHY a lot , why Europe, why CERN, why the Landtag? Why, Why, Why?????


Music Class. © Damaso Reyes

My best answer is why not? Why isn’t the Kinder Klinik worthy of being photographed? I guess the real answer to all of these questions is twofold. First, because I am here. Second, because it interests ME.


A Happy Adrian. © Damaso Reyes


Numbers Game. © Damaso Reyes

As much as I am trying to create a record of both what Europe is like now and how it is changing so that future generations can view their history in context, I am working very much for myself. I could spend all my time photographing what other people think is relevant or important but then it would cease to be my project, it would just be current events.


Science Experiment. © Damaso Reyes

So I go to places like Schömberg and meet people like Adrian and Daniele and hope that at the end of this long process the images I cobble together make some kind of sense. I can assure you that I am having a great time doing it!


Daniele in computer class. © Damaso Reyes
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Trip to CERN 
Thursday, June 14, 2007, 01:30 - Travel, Shooting
Geneva

Well it has been two incredible days, almost enough to make me wish that I had taken physics a little more seriously in high school, sorry John, all I can do is take photos…

I arrived in Geneva early yesterday morning after traveling all night on the train, next time I will splurge and get in a day early so I am a little less tired but right now I am young and underfunded so without a single drop of coffee I made my way to CERN on the #9 bus. On the way to CERN it struck me just how international a city Geneva is, something I should have realized since it hosts both CERN and several United Nations agencies but after spending so much time in Stuttgart, which is, let’s just say less diverse, it was like a little taste of home seeing all the different faces speaking all those different languages.

I made my way to CERN’s reception area where I was greeted by fellow American Katie Yurkewicz who would be my guide through the world of particle physics. Several people have asked me both how I came to learn about CERN and why I chose to go there to photograph. The simple answers are how couldn’t you have heard about CERN and why wouldn’t you want to go there? Seriously, CERN has been in the news for years, especially recently because they are building the world’s largest particle accelerator. At 27 km in diameter, this will also be the world’s most powerful, allowing the physicists there to smash protons together at close to the speed of light. And it is a great example of European cooperation with scientists from all over the continent, not to mention the world, contributing their knowledge.


Damaso Reyes, particle physicist for a day... © Damaso Reyes

Of course you ask why would anyone want to do such a thing? The answer is by doing so the scientists hope to create conditions close to those which existed just after the creation of our universe in order to find some exotic and rare particles like the Higgs Boson, particles which have been theorized as being the smallest and most basic building blocks which make up our universe, but have yet to be found.

So in a large tunnel underneath Switzerland and France, they are building experiments which hope to detect these particles. It is very ironic that they are building the world’s largest, well just about everything it seems like, in order to detect the universe’s tiniest particles. I was extremely lucky to visit CERN now while the experiments are still under construction, in a year they will all be underground and inaccessible.


Big enough for you? © Damaso Reyes

First Katie and I drove into France (my first trip by the way) to visit the Compact Muon Soleniod. It just goes to show you that scientists do have a sense of humor because when we walked into the massive building where parts of CMS are being built we were confronted by a massive object, at least 15 meters tall. The colorful detector is just one of many which will examine what happens when you slam a bunch of protons together at 99.99% the speed of light. By the way, I am not getting into detailed descriptions because A.) you can follow the links and read all about it and B.) I don’t want to screw up the science.


Just one part of the CMS. © Damaso Reyes


Plugging away... © Damaso Reyes

The scale of these “experiments” truly is awe inspiring, it is simply amazing that we can build things so massive and complex. Words fail me so here are some photos.

After this we went down.


Into the heart of the beast. © Damaso Reyes


Pretty cool, huh? © Damaso Reyes

Down into the tunnel where the Large Hadron Collider lives, cue scary music…


A little fine tuning on the beam pipe. © Damaso Reyes


This is what all the excitement is about. © Damaso Reyes


We've come to the end of the road...© Damaso Reyes

After seeing CMS you expect the tunnel to be massive, and it is pretty big but the actual beam pipe, where these itty bitty protons will be whizzing around is pretty small, maybe half a meter at best. But the pipe needs to be vacuum sealed and cooled down to a crazy temperature and serviced so when you factor all that in the tunnel gets big. Of course the caverns that hold the massive detectors are, well massive themselves and I got a chance to appreciate the scale of what they are doing again as I saw some of the CMS begin to come together.


All your protons are belong to us. © Damaso Reyes


Everything is under control! © Damaso Reyes

After a short drive to the control center we went to visit ALICE. No, she’s not a person but another of the LHC experiments: A Large Ion Collider Experiment to be exact. Again, a pretty big thingy, which is about how much justice I can do to the millions of man hours put into this device, or devices to be more accurate.


The heart of ALICE. © Damaso Reyes


LHCb is in effect.

The last stop was to the LHCb experiment. It just amazed me the amount of running around and climbing around that these scientists do. If you think that particle physicists just sit at desks all day well here is proof that they don’t!


Some of a few thousand detectors. © Damaso Reyes


Working hard... © Damaso Reyes

In the evening I went to Lausanne where I had dinner with Caroline Tosti, an old friend I met in Rwanda the first time Jimmie and I went in 1999. I had not seen here then so it was great to have a chance to catch up after all these years. Lausanne is a lovely city on Lake Geneva and I had a great time but couldn’t stay out too late since I had to get up early and head back to the detectors!


Agostino. © Damaso Reyes

Today was just as interesting as yesterday. I spent the day with two scientists working on different experiments, offering two different views of what it must be like to work here. First I hung out with Agostino Lanza, who is working on the ATLAS experiment. A distinguished older Italian gentleman whose soft voice belies an extremely active mind, he is a senior scientist and his day was quite a bit more relaxed than what I would see later. First stop: a meeting. In Italian. That lasted over an hour. And I don’t drink coffee.


A tough one... © Damaso Reyes


You can see the gears turning... © Damaso Reyes

Of course anytime you are building anything this huge you are going to have meetings and lots of them. I think I got off easy! After the meeting, which was discussing some problems they are having with some of the detectors, we went around CERN running errands, picking up equipment and other odds and ends, something I would expect one of his graduate students to be doing but it just goes to show you that everyone here works together! Just before lunch I got to see some of the massive data processing center for ATLAS which will be used to decide which of the millions upon millions of collisions per second are of interest and should be saved. As a tech head it was pretty cool seeing all that massive computing power, all I could think about is the awesome LAN video game parties you could have!








Too much tech, too much fun... © Damaso Reyes

After lunch I spent the afternoon with Jesus Puerta Pelayo, who is working on the CMS experiment. Young and fit, Jesus was full of energy and showed it as he raced back and forth from one part of CMS to the other. His main challenge while I was with him was to reinstall a circuit board. Sounds pretty easy but this isn’t just opening up your PC at home, we had to climb four stories of scaffolding to get to the spot where it had to be put back in. Then we had to climb back down and get on a small crane to access the backside and plug in the data ports. Pretty cool but also time consuming. “I’m not a physicist,” he joked “I’m a technician!” he joked but what is amazing is that most of the people crawling around these massive machines are indeed physicists. Imagine going from the classroom and the blackboard to a massive hole in the ground, this must surely be the most interesting and exciting time of their lives!


Once again Jesus saves the day! © Damaso Reyes


Minor adjustments.© Damaso Reyes


The Holy ghost. © Damaso Reyes


Up close and personal. © Damaso Reyes

And then it was time to say goodbye to CERN and all the lovely people there. I hope to come back over the coming months as the experiments come closer to going online but I will always remember my exciting two days in the world of science!


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes
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Lost and Found 
Monday, June 11, 2007, 22:17 - Commentary
Stuttgart

Why aren’t you in Hamburg? Two different people asked me this question in the space of as many days and they, as well as you I suppose deserve an answer.

Of course my friends were referring to the anti G8 protests happening in Hamburg and other cities here in Germany, which played host to the event. Instead of photographing demonstrators voicing their opposition to global imperialism I was off taking photographs of expensive cameras and sick children. But again the question is why miss out on the biggest story of the month, if not year here in Germany?


A picture just for Conan! © Damaso Reyes

It is important for you to understand where I am coming from. For years, in fact for the bulk of my career as a photojournalist, I spent my time photographing demonstrations, protests, press conferences, fires and perp walks. Any kind of breaking news was of interest to me. At a certain point, in fact it was after I returned to New York from Indonesia, I realized that this was not the kind of work that I wanted to do. There are people who do it far better than I can and as I explained to someone this week I believe that when everyone is covering a particular topic or event (Iraq, Paris Hilton, etc) that is in fact a perfect signal to me that I should be covering something else.

Now if I had an unlimited budget and an assignment from a big time newspaper would I have been covering the protests? Perhaps, but as I told my friend Conan this week over the next few years there will be no shortage of protests. This project is not about a protest that happens this month; it is about the larger themes that are impacting on the lives of people living here in Europe. I have to stop focusing on the trees and start mapping the forest and sometimes, in fact most of the time, that will mean missing out on the story du jour.

I can live with that…

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Up and Atom! 
Monday, June 11, 2007, 05:35 - Travel
Stuttgart

11:45 p.m. and waiting for the train to Geneva, don’t let anyone tell you that this business is glamorous!



After waking up early this morning to photograph the mayor of Stuttgart, here I am waiting for an early morning train to Geneva where I will photograph the incredible particle physics lab at CERN. For two days I will be lost in the world to science, not to mention chocolate, which should be interesting! I will catch up with you guys on Thursday…

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Back to the Black Forest 
Thursday, June 7, 2007, 20:07 - Shooting
Schömberg

Today I travelled once again to the Black Forest and the Schömberg Children’s Clinic to photograph some of the patients there. On the way I got off at the wrong stop (who knew that there were two stops called Mühlacker anyway?) and ended up cooling my heels for an hour while reading the New Yorker in the blazing sun. In any event I finally made my way to the clinic where I got to spend the day photographing several young children who are in various stages of rehabilitation. It is simply amazing the amount of courage that these young people have, I sometimes wonder how I would react if I faced a similar challenge in my life.


Dimitar standing tall. © Damaso Reyes


Racing stripes. © Damaso Reyes

One of the most interesting people I met today was not a child at all but an adult patient of the clinic who first came there as a young boy. Peter Borkmann is wheelchair bound but as you can see in these photos he has a boundless spirit. Though he has trouble communicating (or at least I had trouble understanding him) he manages to be one of the most lively and popular patients in the clinic and even has his own website.


Saint Peter. © Damaso Reyes


Open to suggestions. © Damaso Reyes


Damaso & Peter. © Damaso Reyes

I still don’t know quite where I am going with this work but one of the advantages of being here and working while on this fellowship is that I can work without the pressure of knowing exactly what fruit any particular shoot will bear. Now if only I can maintain this extravagant lifestyle somehow…


Happy go lucky. © Damaso Reyes
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Ich mochte eine Leica M6! 
Wednesday, June 6, 2007, 02:08 - Travel, Personal
Solms

I am a changed man.


Leica lenses under construction. © Damaso Reyes

Sure I use and enjoy working with a rangefinder but for as long as I have been photographing I have been using SLR cameras. There are a lot of different reasons for this but like most artists I have been evolving my practice over the past ten years. First I found the joy of using large aperture prime lenses. Then I learned to get as close as possible to my subject. Later I learned to make my photographs increasingly subtle.


Testing the glass. © Damaso Reyes

Today I visited the Leica factory in Solms. In many ways it was very much a pilgrimage. It was like visiting a holy place, a location where photography and photojournalism is still revered in a world where it is increasingly seen as a relic of a bygone age.


Handmade and hands on. © Damaso Reyes

I saw dozens of craftspeople lovingly polishing and grinding lenses, assembling and testing cameras. The pride that everyone there takes in making the world’s finest cameras was clear and made me think about my own practice and what I need to change.

The past five months have given me a wonderful opportunity to find a new way of working, one that is defined by the word SLOWLY. This trip added the final piece of the puzzle. Rather than carrying a 10 or 15 kilo bag full of heavy slrs, I think it is time for me to fully embrace the rangefinder.

Does anyone have a few thousand Euros I could borrow to buy some new cameras and lenses? Or maybe you have an old M3 or M5 that is just gathering dust on a shelf? I’d be happy to put it to good use!


Finishing touches. © Damaso Reyes

I have always felt that knowing what you what is the hardest thing to discover, figuring out how to achieve it always ends up being the easier task.

Special thanks to Michael Agel for showing me around!
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Off to Solms 
Monday, June 4, 2007, 11:40 - Travel
Stuttgart

I am very excited!


Oh happy day! © Damaso Reyes

Tomorrow I get to photograph at the Leica factory!

It feels a little like a religious pilgrimage, going to the place where the 35mm rangefinder camera was more or less invented and refined. So many great images have been taken with these bodies and lenses, it should be a fun little excursion.


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Children's Hospital 
Friday, June 1, 2007, 17:36 - Shooting
Stuttgart

Well as much as I have enjoyed basking in the afterglow of my show, drinking beer and sleeping until noon, I can only stay idle so long. Back to “work” it is for me and yesterday I traveled to the Black Forest to visit the Schömberg Children´s
Neuropediatric and Rehabilitation Hospital
.


A little charmer. © Damaso Reyes

A few months ago I met a fellow artist Doctor Uwe Petruch at a symposium here at Solitude. After he told me about his job I suggested that I come and photograph, as I often do when I meet interesting people. After several months of back and forth we were finally able to fix a date and yesterday I took the train through the hills and towards the forest.


Toy trucks. © Damaso Reyes

The hospital is quite small, only about 65 beds and the children there suffer from both trauma caused by accidents as well as neurological disorders caused by hereditary diseases and birth defects. While I have spent some time in rehabilitation centers after my good friend Al had an accident two years ago, it was still a little tough to see small children suffering. But after a little while I discovered that despite their problems the children are still very much children underneath it all. While there I briefly photographed a lovely young Turkish-German boy named Emre. I plan on going back next week to do more work. While I don’t know exactly how this work fits into my larger project it is important to me to follow this thread wherever it leads. As always, we shall see…


Mother and child. © Damaso Reyes
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The Show... 
Monday, May 28, 2007, 15:05 - Project News, Events
Stuttgart

Well opening night was very much a success although some severe rain and hail but before 8 seems to have kept some people from making the drive up to the castle. The show was already up by Wednesday, thanks to the help of Herrs Horst and Ludwig and by lunchtime on Thursday everything was done, leaving me with several hours to kill. I took a walk in the woods and contemplated the long journey which has brought me here. As I walked down the forest paths my thoughts turned towards the future and just where it will take me. As happy as I am to see my work displayed up on the walls I know that this is just a beginning; as happy as I am with the quality of the work I know that it must, and will become much, much better.


Welcome! © Damaso Reyes

In many ways satisfaction for me is fleeting. I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far but I feel that I have so much further to go. This project is like chasing a ghost in some ways and I often wonder if at the end the accumulation of these years of photographs will become large enough or dense enough or meaningful enough to bring some kind of understand to the times in which we live. I suppose I can’t fixate on that too much since the ultimate judgment on this work will not belong to me in any event.


© Damaso Reyes

But I can enjoy looking at the walls and seeing the hard work of the past months!


© Damaso Reyes

I will be back with more images of the show at some point in the near future…


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes
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