Monday, May 28, 2007, 15:05 - Project News, EventsStuttgart
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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Thursday, May 24, 2007, 11:02 - Project NewsStuttgart
Well today is the big day, my exhibition here at Solitude opens tonight! It’s been a lot of work but I am very excited, it’s hard to believe that I am finally done with all the preparations. This show represents the first time I am showing work from The Europeans here in Europe as well as the largest number of images I have ever exhibited. I am very interested to find out what Germans and other Europeans think about the photographs I have taken over the past few months.
Touching the Void. Berlin © Damaso Reyes
Brain surgery in Hamburg. © Damaso Reyes
I have also updated my website with several new galleries including images of Hamburg, the Cardinal of Berlin, a brain surgery and the Port of Hamburg. Feel free to browse and don’t forget to tell me what you think!
I hope you all have a chance to stop by tonight, if not I will be posting some images from the opening night reception! Wish me luck…
Music in Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
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Monday, May 21, 2007, 11:28 - Project NewsStuttgart
I’m still here, working on the show which opens here at Solitude on Thursday. You’ll be happy to know that I have selected 33 images from my time here in Germany to display. It will be interesting to see what people think! I will be also adding galleries to the website in the coming days as well. Here’s a quick preview…
Art for Art's sake. © Damaso Reyes
Carnival in Koln. © Damaso Reyes
May 1st in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
The loyal opposition in Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
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Saturday, May 12, 2007, 13:35 - Project NewsStuttgart
Sorry I haven’t been around much but I am furiously preparing for my show which opens on May 24th. If you’re around, you should really stop by! In any event, life will get back to normal, whatever that means, after I am finished scanning and prepping the images to be printed. Wish me luck…
May Day 2007. © Damaso Reyes
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Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 21:32 - Project NewsStuttgart
Well it has been four very interesting and productive months for me here in Germany. It seems like just yesterday I was boarding a plane at JFK to head here. In the past four months I have shot over 130 rolls of film, capturing countless images. I feel like my time here thus far has put me well on the path to creating a body of work, something I have been searching for ever since I began this project over two years ago. Of course I have a great deal of work left to do before I leave Solitude in July but my time in Germany will not be finished since I will return in August for another fellowship.
Another brick in the Wall. © Damaso Reyes
In other good news I will have the opportunity to return to Solitude for October and November as well. I hope to use this extra time to dig even deeper and do some of the shoots that I haven’t had time to work on yet.
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Thursday, May 3, 2007, 01:23 - ShootingBerlin
Well yesterday I spent the day photographing the various demonstrations here in Berlin held in honor of May 1st, the international labor day. It was a little anticlimactic since I had been led to believe that there would be some clashes with the police and general unrest but nevertheless, there were plenty of good images to go around. Here is a small sample of what I shot…
Speeches... © Damaso Reyes
Police... © Damaso Reyes
Love... © Damaso Reyes
Statements... © Damaso Reyes
Banners... © Damaso Reyes
Anger... © Damaso Reyes
Che... © Damaso Reyes
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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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