Paris Je t'aime 
Thursday, October 11, 2007, 14:58 - Travel

The River Seine. © Damaso Reyes

It’s hard to know where to start! First, I completely understand why so many American artists have fallen in love with this city, it truly is beautiful. You can tell the difference between Germany and France as soon as you step on board the TGV. A little nicer, a little more stylish, a little more comfortable, it was a smooth and pleasant three and a half hour ride. I was staying with some friends in the 13th Arrondissement, a very pleasant part of town. Yesterday the jury of the photo festival met and we spent much of the morning arguing about photos. We managed to narrow it down to about ten but we will come together again on Friday to pick the winners. This is the second jury I have been a part of an each time I feel like I understand the process a bit better. While it is great to have a diverse jury; on our panel we had photographers, gallerists and industry executives, it can also be frustrating. Most of the time the winners are more compromises than anything else although I think that we have agreed on the first place winner, which is very strong indeed.

Stained Glass. © Damaso Reyes

Cross. © Damaso Reyes

Candles. © Damaso Reyes

Brought to you by the letter H. © Damaso Reyes

I spent the rest of the day wandering about. I walked along the Seine, visited Notre Dame and just took in the place. One thing I love about Paris is that it truly is a walking city, much like New York.

Facade. © Damaso Reyes

Today I spent the day hitting several museums including the Louvre and the Pompidou, which left me exhausted. You could spend weeks just going to all the museums and galleries in this city. The more time I spend here the more I think it would be a nice place to live for a little while, assuming I could find a way to pay for it!

I also saw that big tower they have here…

© Damaso Reyes
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Paris Bound! 
Tuesday, October 9, 2007, 06:57 - Travel

I am off to Paris for the first time this afternoon! I will be on the jury of the Aella Foto Latino festival as well as taking some time to explore and photograph the city. I look forward to telling you all about my adventures; have fun while I am gone!

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HCB Quote of the Week #5 
Saturday, October 6, 2007, 16:29 - Commentary

Well I am almost done processing film! Today I think I will go into town and do a little shooting, maybe hit the local flea market; you never know what you will find after all! I hope you are ready for another pearl of wisdom!

Marine Corps training. © Damaso Reyes

The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt. -Henri Cartier-Bresson, "Photography Year 1980, LIFE Library of Photograph,” page 27

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Reel Fun 
Thursday, October 4, 2007, 14:28 - Commentary
October 4, 2007

It’s hard not to emphasize what a big change it is to be back here. In a few hours I went from Germany’s largest city to a small community of artists. I just got back from a nice walk in the woods that surround us here and the air was fresh and the light was beautiful. The past few days I have seen the sun, something that didn’t happen too much in Berlin and enjoyed sleeping in, something else I didn’t get to do too much of.

Mmmm..chemicals.... © Damaso Reyes

I also got back into the darkroom today, getting a start on the more than forty rolls of film that I have shot over the previous few months. As you might know, processing is one of my least favorite parts of the photographic experience, it seems no matter how careful I am or if I wear gloves I always smell like developer. Loading sixteen rolls of film at a time, in the dark, can be pretty boring but I have a good music collection to help keep me entertained. The reward is of course seeing the film once it is done, trying to remember where and why I took certain shots and always being a bit surprised by the results. I still have another day or so in the lab before I am caught up and then of course I have to edit, then scan then edit some more before posting it all on the website. Fun, fun, fun!

So I think I am going to Paris for a few days next week, feel free to send me your suggestions on places to eat, things to see, etc. It’s my first time so I am very much looking forward to doing a lot of walking and hopefully shooting!

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Return to Solitude 
Tuesday, October 2, 2007, 15:55 - Travel

So I arrived back in Solitude yesterday after a nice train ride from Berlin. Some of the faces have changed since July but the house remains as I left it, warm and inviting and I have already managed a short walk in the woods! I am very happy to be back in this environment after a busy two months in Berlin. I hope the next two months will be productive, if a bit slower. I am still debating whether or not to head over to Munich later this week to catch the end of Oktoberfest, let me know what you think I should do. Tomorrow I will head to the sauna for some much needed rest and relaxation!

Back to basics. © Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of the Week #4 
Saturday, September 29, 2007, 12:37 - Commentary

Just two more days in the Hauptstadt! I will try to make the most of them and see a few galleries and museums, hopefully the weather will cooperate. Here is our latest quote of the week, enjoy!

Remains of the war, Kosovo 2005. © Damaso Reyes

“As photojournalists we supply information to a world that is overwhelmed with preoccupations and full of people who need the company of images....We pass judgment on what we see, and this involves an enormous responsibility,” Henri Cartier-Bresson, "American Photo", September/October 1997, page: 77

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Fast Fertig! 
Thursday, September 27, 2007, 14:52 - Commentary

One more day left at Vanity Fair! It is amazing how quickly these last two months have gone by. The past few weeks I have been slaving away, trying to wrap up two articles for the magazine before I head back down to Stuttgart. You will be happy to know that I am indeed all done, let’s keep our fingers crossed that they survive the editing process.

The Gate. © Damaso Reyes

Now my attention is beginning to focus on the next two months, and they will be quite busy indeed. I am pondering a quick trip down to Munich for Oktoberfest. Next month will also see my first trip to Paris where I will serve on the jury of a small photography festival. I also have plans to head to Heidelberg and spend some time at the National Cancer Institute. And somewhere in there I have to find some time to process and scan all the film I shot these past two months not to mention update my website! So don’t be surprised if I am only blogging once or twice a week, I will be busy making the most of my remaining time here in the Federal Republic.

I am a bit sad to be leaving Berlin, I feel like I barely had much time to explore the city, but I am looking forward to returning whenever I can over the next few years. Even as much as I have traveling around Germany I still feel there is a lot more to discover, especially in the east, but then again I feel that way about Europe in general. The next two months should be very productive but I also want to carve out some time towards the end for some reflection on the past year.

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Geiger College 
Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 15:49 - Shooting

Yesterday I went back to Abraham Geiger College, the only Rabbinical School in German and met with Adrian Michael Schell, who is training to be a rabbi there. Last year the school graduated its first class of rabbis, something very special considering Germany’s history. After reading about it last year I thought that it would be interesting to do a story on it and over the past few weeks I met with the rector of the College as well as a few students including Adrian.

Adrian. © Damaso Reyes

The face of Judaism in Germany since the Holocaust is a very interesting and I am looking forward to learning more about it. But since the fall of the Soviet Union, a large number of Russian Jews have come to German, changing the demographics of Judaism here while at the same time growing the community. Adrian is a convert himself, someone who came to the religion after research and intense soul searching. Next month he will deliver a sermon for the first time and I will hopefully join him and document it. Stay tuned for more developments…

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HCB Quote of the Week #3 
Saturday, September 22, 2007, 15:55 - Commentary

'Manufactured' or staged photography does not concern me. And if I make a judgment, it can only be on a psychological or sociological level. There are those who take photographs arranged beforehand and those who go out to discover the image and seize it. For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which - in visual terms - questions and decides simultaneously. In order to "give a meaning" to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what he frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. It is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression. One must always take photos with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself. -Henri Cartier-Bresson

Kosovo 2005 © Damaso Reyes
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Why Can't we, I Mean, You Know, Just Get Along? 
Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 15:47 - Commentary

I had no idea but it seems that Belgium is having some problems. The Walloons and the Flemish are not happy with each other at all. Apparently the Dutch speakers have had enough and want to break up the marriage. The French speaking Walloons say non.

Hard to believe that they are still fighting about the divisions in a nation created in 1830! I mean that is longer than Italy has existed, you would think that at a certain point they would get it together and say “sure we’re different but we’re Belgian.” Apparently not. You can read all about it at the New York Times.

This is exactly why I am working on this project. If the Belgians can’t get along in their tiny country what hopes are there of building something resembling a European Identity? I can only hope that somehow photographs can bring people together….

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Published Article  
Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 12:34 - Events

I suppose good things do come to those who wait, but then again I am a big fan of clichés! My article about New York artists moving to Berlin has finally been published! I tried to get Vanity Fair interested but they passed. Fortunately for me the Burns network acted fast and my friend Allison introduced me to an editor at Der Spiegel Online. He read the story and gave it a thumbs up. You can read it here; let me know what you think…

Art for Art's Sake © Damaso Reyes
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Dreden & Leipzig 
Sunday, September 16, 2007, 15:25 - Travel

The View from a bridge. © Damaso Reyes

Well it has been a busy two and a half days here in Dresden and Leipzig! It was great to meet up with the other Burns fellows here in Germany, some of whom I hadn’t seen since July. Our time here in the east has been both social and educational but fun all throughout.

History, remade. © Damaso Reyes

Sword and Shield of the Party. © Damaso Reyes

On Friday afternoon we met with a representative of the Stasi archives, Michael Beleites. The Ministry for State Security, as the German secret police were known has files on a huge percentage of the East German population and when the East German government finally collapsed there was a great deal of discussion about what to do with the millions of files that the Stasi has not managed to destroy. A law was finally passed which allowed people to view their own Stasi file and learn who was informing on them and how their lives had been affected by the state. Nearly twenty years later people are still applying to view their files and the historians are still working to piece together those files which had been partially destroyed.

Later that day we went further back into German history and visited the Green Vault, one of Europe’s most amazing treasure chambers.

Saturday brought us to Leipzig by train where we heard singing in one of the city’s historic churches and then went to the Leipziger Baumwollspnnerei, an old textile mill which has been converted into shops and artists studios. While wandering around I stumbled into the workshop of Philipp Neumann, a young German guitar maker. His innovative handcrafted masterpieces have a sounds that has to be heard in order to believe and luckily for me two master guitarists happened to be in his studio and playing. I spent about an hour drinking wine, photographing and listening to great music. A tough life, I know but I am willing to make certain sacrifices for my work!

Philipp, master guitar maker. © Damaso Reyes

Herr Jochen shares his passion. © Damaso Reyes

To wrap this up today we had a tour of the Museum in der “Runden Ecke” which was the Stasi headquarters in Leipzig. It was incredible to hear about how they operated in the very building we were standing in, less than twenty years ago. We saw the equipment the used and how they systematically observed and oppressed the East German people. It is a true wake up call for those who might be tempted to glamorize that period in history.

Father of the Revolution. © Damaso Reyes

Inside the house of terror. © Damaso Reyes

The Map. © Damaso Reyes

Prison Cell. © Damaso Reyes

No place you wanted to be. © Damaso Reyes

This week will be quite busy for me as I try to wrap up a few stories that I have been working on for Vanity Fair. I only have two weeks left in Berlin and I will try to make the most of them!

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HCB Quote of the Week #2 
Saturday, September 15, 2007, 14:47 - Commentary

Greetings! Even though I am traveling I wouldn't want you too miss the quote of the week...

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin 2007

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event, as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression. I believe that through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us which can mould us, but which can also be affected by us.

A balance must be established between these two worlds- the one inside us and the one outside us. As the result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world that we must communicate. But this takes care only of the content of the picture. For me, content cannot be separated from form. By form, I mean the rigorous organization of the interplay of surfaces, lines and values. It is in this organization alone that our conceptions and emotions become concrete and communicable. In photography, visual organisation can stem only from a developed instinct. -Henri Cartier-Bresson
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Off to Dresden 
Thursday, September 13, 2007, 14:48 - Travel

Tomorrow I head out with the other American Burnsies to Dresden, where we will have our midterm meeting. It is a chance for us to talk about our fellowships, compare notes and make suggestions. We will also have a chance to see a bit of Eastern Germany and the city made famous in Slaughterhouse V. So I will catch up with you guys over the weekend and let you know how everything went…

No time for sleep, Dresden is waiting! © Damaso Reyes
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The Dollar is going down like the popular girl in high school... 
Wednesday, September 12, 2007, 15:17 - Commentary

While I was doing some research online at work I came across this headline: Dollar hits fresh 15-year low. You can read all about it here and here but it basically boils down to: since Damaso has been getting his fellowship money in dollars he is S.O.L. Boy, I can’t wait to get back to Solitude and those wonderful Euros they give me there.

What it's all about....

But it does raise a real issue. Basically I am going to have to start making my money in Euros instead of dollars. Think about it: when I make $1000 back in New York and then hope on a plane to Berlin or Rome it is only worth about €720. Once I land I am nearly 40% poorer! And trust me things are not cheaper here in Europe, beer being a notable and delicious exception!

So, as they say here in Germany, or would say if they were me, ich muss das Geld finden! Feel free to help out, suggestions are welcome! Maybe write a letter to the Treasury Sec? Light a little bit of a fire under him to DO something? Just a thought….

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