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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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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Opening NIght 
Thursday, May 24, 2007, 11:02 - Project News
Stuttgart

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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Still Working... 
Monday, May 21, 2007, 11:28 - Project News
Stuttgart

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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Getting Ready... 
Saturday, May 12, 2007, 13:35 - Project News
Stuttgart

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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Four Months On... 
Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 21:32 - Project News
Stuttgart

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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Off to Berlin! 
Saturday, April 21, 2007, 12:55 - Project News
Stuttgart

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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New Galleries 
Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 12:55 - Project News
Stuttgart

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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2nd Anniversary 
Sunday, April 15, 2007, 13:13 - Personal, Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

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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When it rains... 
Friday, April 6, 2007, 09:43 - Personal, Project News
Stuttgart

“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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Rights? You don't need any rights.... 
Wednesday, April 4, 2007, 10:10 - Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

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…

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Month Two 
Thursday, March 8, 2007, 15:54 - Personal, Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

Well it has been two months since I left New York and arrived here in Germany. In that time I have traveled to a Munich and Cologne and shot and processed nearly a hundred rolls of film.


Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Cologne 2007. ©Damaso Reyes

Since I have been here time has had the dual sensation of moving slowly and quickly at the same time. On the one hand, it feels like I have been here for a long time, on the other, time seems to be slipping by. While I have been fairly productive I still feel like I am spinning my wheels at times, especially when it comes to setting up shoots at various institutions. I think that my stay here at Solitude has taught me to slow down a bit, to spend more time thinking and pondering what it is I am doing and for that I am truly grateful. Yesterday, after running some errands, I simply took a long walk in that park. As the clouds came and went I walked along the verdant paths and thought about the rest of the year, what I would like to be doing and about the long term prospects of the project. It was nice to feel like I had the time and space to think, indeed I think that outlook is going to be crucial to the success of the project. But alas my time here is also finite and I have to really begin to start searching for more long term financing for The Europeans if I am to keep going. As much as I distain the idea of being a business man I am going to have to start moving in that direction if I want to keep this up.

But for now I am enjoying the sanity that this fellowship is providing.

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The Commission for the Standardization of Blankets 
Monday, March 5, 2007, 12:00 - Project News
Stuttgart

I know it’s hard to believe but I am not an expert in everything. Nor do I want to be. For a long time this project has been more or less a one man show. Well now all of that is about to change.

Last week I was reading a 1962 article from the Complete New Yorker that Ruthie gave me about the formation of the European Community which mentioned a “Commission for the Standardization of Blankets” which had been toiling in futility for several years. I am not sure that this group actually ever existed but it if didn’t, it does now and if it did, it has now been resurrected.

Today I am announcing the formation of the Commission for the Standardization of Blankets. The CSB is an ad hoc panel of experts from different fields who are interested in the goals of The Europeans and wish to use their knowledge and experience to advise and support the project. The role of the members of the Commission is largely to advise me in the execution of the project and to advocate on behalf of The Europeans.


Our gang. Kosovo 2005. ©Damaso Reyes

The first member of the CSB is Philippe Perreaux, a Swiss lawyer specializing in copyright issues. Interested? Do you want to join? Let me know…

Update

The Commission already has its second member! Jean-Baptiste Joly, Director of Academy Schloss Solitude has joined the growing number of fine human beings who are supporting The Europeans. Will you be next?

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Off to Cologne! 
Friday, February 16, 2007, 20:27 - Travel, Shooting, Project News, Events
En Route to Cologne

Well here I am, off to Cologne for carnival weekend! Last year I was in New Orleans, which was a lot of fun and hard work. It might be interesting to try carnival in a different city every year, we’ll see if we can make a habit out of this. So I will try to post whilst I am away but you might not hear from me until next week. Catch you later…


New Orleans this time last year. ©Damaso Reyes
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Snow Day! 
Thursday, January 25, 2007, 13:36 - Personal, Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

So it snowed yesterday.


©Damaso Reyes

A lot.


©Damaso Reyes

I had fun.


©Damaso Reyes

I went sledding.


©Damaso Reyes

I got cold and wet.


Going down the hill with a little help. Photo by Ligia Nobre.

But I had fun.

Then I had dinner with some of my fellow fellows and processed 16 rolls of film.

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