Back in action! 
Sunday, August 27, 2006, 00:00 - Travel, Personal, Project News
New York City

Well since I last wrote I have been to New Orleans for the first Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina; to the Marine training base at Parris Island, SC; and to Tanzania on a United Nations fellowship. I spent much of the summer building this fine website you have here and taking a breather.


A young girl in Tanzania. ©Damaso Reyes

What I havenít been doing is shooting in Europe, something I plan on correcting next month as I travel to Germany first for Photokina, the huge trade show where Kodak is using some of my images in their booth, and then to shoot in Berlin for the month of October. It will be a great chance to get a taste of Germany before I head there in January for my six month fellowship at Academie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart.

I am really looking forward to getting back out on the road and to working on this little project of mine.

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The Big Night 
Thursday, February 2, 2006, 20:41 - Shooting, Personal, Project News, Events
New York City

Happy New Year!

Okay, itís a month late but itís the thought that counts, right? Tonight is the opening of the group show I am in at E3 gallery here in New York. After processing all my film and doing quite a bit of printing, the big day is here. I have selected a group of images from my two trips to Kosovo last year. I am pretty happy with the work that I am showing.


A very exciting invitation.

While the show is small it feels like a big step for me. This is the first time that I am showing work from The Europeans, one of what I hope will be many work in progress shows over the next few years. As an artist, I spend a great deal of time working in my own little bubble, not really interacting with people about my work. Tonight I will be presenting my vision to the public, or at least the friends who show up. Putting oneís work out there is always a little bit nerve racking but I believe deeply in this project, no matter how other people might react to the images I show tonight.

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Home again, home again... 
Tuesday, November 15, 2005, 01:33 - Travel, Shooting, Project News
Barcelona, Spain

Well today was my last full day in town and I decided to spend it once again wandering about. I took the tram across the harbor and had lunch near the beach. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I am hoping that I can make it back soon.


Barcelona from the air. ©Damaso Reyes

Now it is time to focus on heading back to New York. I will be working on processing this film and printing for a upcoming group show at E3 Gallery. I got a sponsored artist fellowship and get to use the darkroom which will be invaluable to dealing with the dozens and dozens of rolls of film that I have shot over the past weeks.

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Man about town... 
Sunday, November 13, 2005, 00:24 - Shooting, Personal, Project News
Barcelona, Spain

I have spent the past few days coming into town and wandering the streets, visiting museums and monuments including several of Gaudiís masterpieces including the park that he created.


The facade of one of Gaudi's chruches. ©Damaso Reyes

Barcelona is a lovely city. The beach is quite nice, even in November and the people are relatively friendly and there are quite a few expats around. Much like New York, Barcelona is a walking city. The subway is also very easy to navigate and reasonably priced, all things that I am looking for in a city to live in.


Staring at a masterpiece. ©Damaso Reyes

Even when I do settle down in one place, my goal is to spend the better part of each month traveling and shooting. Perhaps two to four weeks out and about shooting a particular story or in a city and then one to three weeks back at base processing, scanning, printing, researching the next shoot and relaxing when I can. This is the plan, anyway.


The top of a steeple. ©Damaso Reyes

In order to make this happen I will have to begin the process of securing more long term funding so I can have the flexibility to run off and shoot something Iím interested in when the mood strikes. Until then I will be applying for grants and artist in residency programs. While I knew there would be a lot of writing and applying involved in this project I donít think I knew just how much of my time would be spent in front of the computer doing research or sending emails. I suppose thatís why I enjoy being out in the field shooting so muchÖ


Looking out over the city. ©Damaso Reyes
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Bright lights, big city 
Tuesday, November 8, 2005, 22:10 - Travel, Shooting
Barcelona, Spain

It took me some time to get it together enough to catch the bus into town but it was certainly worth the wait. Before finally heading into Barcelona, I managed to take a trip up Montserrat and visit the famous monastery and shrine to the Black Madonna, which was very impressive.


The enrance to the church of our Lady of Montserrat. ©Damaso Reyes

I have spent the day wandering around Barcelona, tourist map in hand. I visited one of the larger food markets, which provided a number of interesting images . I also ďfoundĒ one of the cityís many Irish pubs and had a nice, thick Guinness. The vibe here is a good one, in many ways Barcelona reminds me of New York. Perhaps this will become my base of operations once I am here in Europe full time?


A nice, thick Guinness. ©Damaso Reyes


A vendor at a food market. ©Damaso Reyes


Fancy some fresh mushrooms? ©Damaso Reyes
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A glass of wine please... 
Thursday, November 3, 2005, 23:02 - Shooting
El Bruc, Spain

As I drove up to Can Serrat, the art center where I a staying, lunch was being served outside and I got to enjoy a lovely meal with some great local wine. After nearly three weeks on a dry Army base it was nice to be able to have a few glasses and know I wonít have to wake up at 06:45 for some mission, as much fun as those missions were.


An orchard near Can Serrat. ©Damaso Reyes

I got to explore a bit in the afternoon. El Bruc is a tiny town about 45 minutes away from Barcelona at the foot of Montserrat. The countryside here very quite lovely and I think I am going to have a very nice stay here. I donít really have too many plans to shoot, I think this part of my trip will be much more free form and less regimented, which should produced different imagesÖ.

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Hard Work 
Wednesday, November 2, 2005, 04:51 - Shooting
Camp Bondsteel

My time here in Kosovo grows short but I am still being productive, trying to do as much as I can in what time I have left. As always, there never seems to be enough time to work on all the stories that I discover but I suppose that means I will just have to come back.

Today I went to Liria, which is the only shelter for victims of domestic violence here in Kosovo. Itís a story I first learned about during my last trip but there wasnít time to arrange a visit. Luckily for me the soldiers here have been working with Liria a lot over the past few months and I was able to go there and talk to the staff as well as a young woman who is living there.


A young victim of domestic violence. ©Damaso Reyes

These women are doing some tremendous work against some very difficult odds. Many men in this ďtraditionalí society donít want to see women empowered and they have struggled to get support from the local government for their activities. But the women of Liria are passionate and I know they will continue to do their work despite the obstacles.

Read the story I wrote on Liria
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Huffing and Puffing 
Tuesday, October 25, 2005, 21:38 - Shooting, Personal
Camp Bondsteel

One of these days I am going to have to get into shape, I swear!

Today I spent the day on a very interesting mission. Over the past few years one of the things the United Nations has been doing is finding and identifying the bodies of people who went missing or were killed during the war. Today we got up early and went out on one of these missions which entailed hiking for a few kilometers up and down some hills to the sport where the body was discovered.


Clearing mines. ©Damaso Reyes

As one gets older, you often think that the ravages of time donít have an impact, well Iím not yet at 30 and I can say that whatever physical prowess I had seems to have left me. I guess I never considered how fit those gym classes in high school kept me. Oh well.


A UN worker places the remains in a body bag. ©Damaso Reyes

After all the huffing and puffing was done, we got to the site and unearthed the bodies, after some of the soldiers made sure there were no mines. I can say with some certainty that exhumations donít get easier to photograph over time. Still I feel I got some good photos.

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Once again, with feeling 
Friday, October 21, 2005, 01:13 - Shooting
Camp Bondsteel

Itís dťjŗ vu all over again.

Here I am once again at Camp Bondsteel and this trip has been even more productive than the last. I have been on several interesting missions including a search and cordon mission with German troops who were looking for smuggled weapons. We had to get up very, very early so that everyone at the compound they were searching would be asleep. We got to fly in on Blackhawk helicopters through the mountains, which was pretty cool and ridiculously cold. I donít think they ended up finding any weapons in the end but I did get some good images.


A German Soldier prepares for the mission. ©Damaso Reyes

I have been going out a lot more with different units and getting a chance to see how they interact with the population, which is good. I think the next time I come through these parts I wonít embed. I think Kosovo will become one of the touchstones of this project, a place that I visit from time to time to see how it progresses.

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Back to Bondsteel 
Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 00:16 - Travel
New York City

Well it has been an slow but productive summer. Youíll be glad to know that I processed my film and got some pretty good results which you can see in the photos section of the website here. I am on my way back to Kosovo for another three weeks of fun with KFOR, if that isnít an oxymoron. I am looking forward to my time there and to follow up on some stories that I began working on the last time I was there. After that I will be doing a two week artist in residency stint at Can Serrat, just outside of Barcelona which should be nice and relaxing!

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Back to New York 
Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 15:15 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Amsterdam

Well I am headed back home to New York after shooting in three different countries and traveling a few thousand miles. I have shot well over a hundred rolls of film and Iím very much looking forward to seeing the results.

I think I can begin to see how the narrative thread of this project will emerge, though I think it will become much clearer the more that I shoot. Thatís a relief because one of my major concerns going into all this was how it would all tie together to create something that made sense. I am always a bit nervous before a big trip but I think the past few months are a good indication that this project can be successful. It is still going to take a lot of work and elbow grease but I am having a great time shooting this and am looking forward to returning to Europe in the early fall to continue shooting. Now the only questions are where will I go and what will I do?

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The Port 
Monday, June 27, 2005, 17:26 - Shooting
Rotterdam

Yesterday I spent the day photographing at the Port of Rotterdam, the second busiest port in the world. They have quite an operation over there let me tell you.


Cranes move containers at the port. ©Damaso Reyes

I was very impressed by the automation and the fact that every outgoing container is screened for radiological material, a program set up ironically with the help of the Department of Homeland Security (if only we could implement such systems at our ports I would feel a whole lot safer.


An x ray tech points out suspicious cargo. ©Damaso Reyes

They also have these huge truck mounted x ray machines to look inside shipping containers. I also got to spend some time with the drug sniffing dog trainers, who were working with a cute little pup, teaching him to sniff out fun stuff like ecstasy. I would like to do more work like this as the project goes on, perhaps spend a few days next time. Shoots like this will play an important role in the Economics thread of this project.


A puppy is trained to sniff out drugs. ©Damaso Reyes

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Shadowing the Mayor 
Sunday, June 19, 2005, 19:28 - Shooting
Amsterdam


So I have spent the past few days shadowing Job Cohen, the Mayor of Amsterdam. The days have been varied from meetings in The Hague to attending a show at a community center and the opening of a new concert hall. The mayor is a very busy man. I also got to see the Queen at one of the events.


Mayor Cohen takes a phone call between meetings in The Hague. ©Damaso Reyes


Mayor Choen waits for the Queen to arrive by boat. ©Damaso Reyes


The mayor has make-up applied before a television appearence. ©Damaso Reyes

Following the mayor around has been a great chance to keep exploring the Politics thread of this project which I hope will document not just things like elections but the people who make the system run. Time often forgets mayors and ministers alike but these civil servants play an important role in how the EU will integrate.


Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. ©Damaso Reyes

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New Amsterdam meets Old Amsterdam 
Saturday, June 4, 2005, 00:55 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Amsterdam

Having been born in New Amsterdam it is a nice treat to be able to spend some time in my cityís namesake. Weather aside, Amsterdam is a great town. It does remind me quite a bit of New York, and I really like the fact that you can walk and bike most places and the cafť culture has been very enjoyable. Premium Belgian beer in the states costs an arm and a leg but the supermarkets seem to be giving it away.


Some very special flowers. ©Damaso Reyes

I managed to visit a huge flower garden just outside of town called the Keukenhof. While I usually donít go in for nature photography, it was a nice change of pace.


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Voting Day! 
Friday, June 3, 2005, 04:55 - Shooting, Commentary
Amsterdam

Well the Dutch voted yesterday in overwhelming fashion to reject the EU constitution. After the French vote last month no one was surprised but the size of the defeat was a bit shocking for some. What does this mean for the future of integration? Right now it is all just speculation but clearly those leading the push for a more integrated EU must do a better job of communicating to the public, something up until now many in the elites never felt they had to do. At several hundred pages long, the document was unreadable, something that most likely led to its defeat.


Voting results. ©Damaso Reyes

Compared to American elections, there was very little campaigning, which struck me as odd for such an important vote. Those opposed to the EU did and continue to do a great job of getting their message across, the other side has truly fallen down on the job.


Is this the right ballot box? ©Damaso Reyes
It was a long day which began at a local polling station in Amsterdam and ended at the television station where politicians gathered to watch the results.

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