Monday, June 30, 2008, 12:46 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
I hope that everyone had a great weekend! Here in New York it was hot and wet but I didn’t mind too much, after all it is summer. Another week, another article about Europe’s declining birth rate. The New York Times Magazine did a cover story about the issue and its potential ramifications. It was a very interesting piece; the article discussed many of the issues we have talked about here on this blog. The author asked “Will Europe as we know it just peter out?” I certainly hope not! But he did talk about many of the important economic issues as well as various theories about how to solve the problem including immigration.
The future is now. London 2005. © Damaso Reyes
“Another obvious approach to increasing the population: If you can't breed them, lure them. Britain is going through a radical transformation in its social makeup, largely as a result of immigration. A government report in late 2007 projected Britain would have 11 million more people by 2031 - an increase of 18 percent - and by one estimate 69 percent of the growth would come from immigrants and their children,” wrote Russell Shorto.
This is a debate that will only become more important in the coming years. I hope that we can use the images I’m creating as well as this blog to increase the dialogue between us about the future of Europe.
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Saturday, June 28, 2008, 13:01 - CommentaryBrooklyn
So this week’s New Yorker’s got to experience another massive public art opening with the unveiling of Olafur Eliasson’s piece “Waterfalls.” The Danish artist created four large artificial waterfalls around New York harbor at a cost of more than $15 million. I went out the other day to have a look and to say the least I was underwhelmed. While the waterfalls are tall, the fact that you can still see the scaffolding makes them seem much less impressive.
Remembrance of things past. © Damaso Reyes
The piece is has been compared a great deal to “The Gates.” But even supporters of the waterfall have been quick to note that they are completely different pieces. “The Gates” were much more interesting partially because they were interactive. You could actually touch and walk through and around them as opposed to these pieces which you can only view from a distance. The artist says his intention was to get New Yorkers to take another look at the waterfront. I think this could have been done much better by a building several parks for that $15 million. Or by breaking that money up into several large grants for the thousands of struggling artists here in New York. I’m not a big fan of monumental artworks, especially those made with public money. This piece of art is temporary but the money will be gone forever and what will we be left with?
While you think about that, here’s your HCB Quote of the Week.
It seems dangerous to be a portrait artist who does commissions for clients because everyone wants to be flattered, so they pose in such a way that there’s nothing left of truth. - Henri Cartier-Bresson
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Friday, June 27, 2008, 13:04 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
As we say in Brooklyn, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. It’s not the hordes of illegal immigrants; it must be the microscopic black holes that threaten to devour the earth! It is at least according to an article today in the New York Times discussing a lawsuit brought against the federal government and CERN, the particle physics research laboratory in Geneva.
Almost done… Geneva 2007. © Damaso Reyes
As some of you know I visited CERN last year and documented the building of the LHC, which when it is turned on shortly will become the world’s largest supercollider. Those bringing the lawsuit fear the remote possibility that the collider could create mini black holes or other strange particles that could destroy the fabric of the universe, or at least the Earth. Needless to say the possibility is very remote indeed but that doesn’t stop people who want attention from using the legal system to get it. Personally I am very much looking forward to the activation of the collider. If it is successful we will learn a lot about our universe. If not, I won’t have to worry about paying off my student loans!
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Thursday, June 26, 2008, 13:26 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
Well the Germany-Turkey game was a nail biter but sadly Germany’s 3-2 win didn’t magically heal the cultural rifts within Germany or the E.U. In another great article in the I.H.T. we learn about how Italy is dealing with, or not dealing with, its immigrant population.
Post-game Interrogation. Stuttgart, 2007. © Damaso Reyes
“But with plummeting birth rates and an aging populace, Italy can hardly survive now without foreign laborers. Albanians and Romanians care for the elderly. Indians working in Emilia-Romagna tend the cows producing the milk for Parmesan cheese.
"The problem is that fears about crime by immigrants, inflamed by the news media and populist politicians, have combined with one of the largest waves of foreigners in Europe. The Northern League, a political party that once advocated the secession of Italy's north, joined Berlusconi's ruling coalition this spring after distributing posters around cities like Siena showing an American Indian next to a warning that Italians will end up, as the Indians did, penned into reservations if they don't stop immigrants from taking over the country,” writes Michael Kimmelman.
Clearly there is more room for dialogue and discourse, something I believe photography is well suited to inspiring. Do you have some interesting photos on this topic? Send them to me and I will post them and we can continue the discussion…
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008, 11:49 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
In many ways sports, just like art, reflects a society’s values and mores. Who we cheer for makes us think about why we root for whom we do. In America, the integration of baseball preceded the integration of the schools. Sport is another way we fight our social battles.
Security guard, Stuttgart 20006. © Damaso Reyes
Tonight there is a big game with Germany facing off against Turkey. The symbolism, as we learn in a great article in Der Spiegel, couldn’t be greater. It will certainly be interesting to see who wins tonight and how the fans react. As you can see in this New York Times chart below, Europe has a great deal of distance to cover in the evolution of its thought about immigration.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 12:29 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
This weekend I came across an interesting article in the New York Times Magazine. The topic of immigration in Europe is not just hot across the pond but Americans are also increasingly taking interest in this subject as well. While we Americans have a long tradition of external immigration, we have not always dealt with the issue well. Increasingly it seems like Europe is creating continental standards on many issues, unfortunately it seems like they’re taking a step backwards when it comes to immigration. Now more than ever Western Europe needs immigrants, especially when you factor in the declining birth rates in countries like France, Spain and Germany. But most Western European countries have yet to have an honest discourse about the benefits and difficulties of immigration.
Graffiti in Barcelona, 2005. © Damaso Reyes
I hope in some small way my work can have been given the process of this dialogue. I know to want to hope for but I think that image is can serve an important role in raising people’s awareness and consciousness about important issues like this.
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Monday, June 23, 2008, 14:04 - Photo of the DayBrooklyn
Well I hope everyone had a great and relaxing weekend! I had a chance to catch up with some old friends as well as see some great art. One of the great things about being in New York is you never know who you will run into or what you’ll see. But the weekend is over and now it’s time to get back to work. I am moving full steam ahead on my nonprofit corporation and I’d like to hear your feedback on my mission statement, check it out underneath the Picture of the Day.
Flying in Berlin, 2006. © Damaso Reyes
The Europeans seeks to visually document the changes which are occurring as the European Union expands and integrates. Using photographs, exhibitions, articles, discussion panels and an interactive website The Europeans will engage a global audience in an ongoing dialogue about how these historic changes are impacting the lives of ordinary people. Using these tools to create greater understanding among both those in and outside of Europe is at the heart of our mission.
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Saturday, June 21, 2008, 12:32 - Events, CommentaryBrooklyn
Today is one of my favorite days! It’s the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Every winter on those short, cold days I think about this day in particular and hope that it will come soon. In a few days I will have been back in New York for three months, exactly the amount of time than I had been away in Europe earlier this year. So in a sense I've also reached a kind of equilibrium, perhaps one that I hadn’t intended upon reaching this year. The past three months have been very enjoyable, and even highly productive in their own way, but when I left Germany at the end of March I didn’t expect to be back in New York for this long. But life can be one thing you don’t expect after another sometimes so I’ve tried to make the most of the hand that I’ve been dealt.
But enough about those things; today is a happy day! Now, enjoy your HCB Quote of the Week!
Summer in Amsterdam, 2005. © Damaso Reyes
Inside movement there is one moment in which the elements are in balance. Photography must seize the importance of this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it. - Henri Cartier-Bresson
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Thursday, June 19, 2008, 16:03 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
Last night I went to an amazing and moving tribute to the late Philips Jones Griffiths, perhaps the greatest anti-war photographer of his generation. His images, and they are too many to even try to pick a favorite, changed the way we look at war. His seminal book Vietnam, Inc. showed war and the totally of its terrible impact on all sides. So many people, from legendary photographers to ordinary people who were moved by his images came out. It was amazing to hear the stories his friends told and to see the moving film his family put together as he was dying.
We should all be so loved.
His work continues to inspire us all to speak truth to power.
Freedom from Fear. Berlin, 2007. © Damaso Reyes
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008, 12:05 - Photo of the DayBrooklyn
Looking through my images of Germany I sure do have a lot of graphically inspired images. I don’t know if it has something to do with the country’s Bauhaus tradition or my own roving eye but I wanted to keep going with yesterday’s theme and post another interesting image, this time in color (I know, it’s shocking).
Dancing in Stuttgart, 2007. © Damaso Reyes
I still haven’t shaved yet but I do have a razor so watch out!
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 12:02 - Personal, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
So when I was younger, much younger, I wanted to be an illustrator. More specifically I just wanted to be able to draw accurately. Sadly this was a skill that I never developed but fortunately I discovered photography which we all know is drawing with light. While I left behind my ambitions to draw, I am still interested in graphic representations of the world around me. Because I am a photojournalist I don’t have as many opportunities to indulge this proclivity as I would like but every once in a while I can.
Sign of the times. Berlin, 2007 © Damaso Reyes
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Monday, June 16, 2008, 13:51 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
I came across an interesting article in the IHT this weekend about Kosovo. As you know the former province of Serbia (Serbia along with many other nations most notably Russia has not recognized it) declared independence some months ago after years of being administered by the United Nations. On Sunday its constitution went into effect moving the process of independence further along. The constitution calls for the European Union to take a leading role but not all of its members have recognized Kosovo. How the E.U. deals with Kosovo over the coming years will be a test of how mature an institution it is. Clearly there is a need for a common foreign policy but the member states are still clinging dearly to the idea of charting their own courses, sometimes with disastrous effects. Will Kosovo become one of the E.U.’s casualties?
What is the future of Kosovo? Pristina, 2005.© Damaso Reyes
In other news the results of my internet poll are in! And it’s a tie! Five votes for, five against and two people just don’t care. You have to love democracy in action! So where does this leave us? I have no idea but I think it is pretty funny…
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Saturday, June 14, 2008, 13:21 - CommentaryBrooklyn
Well Ireland said NO!!!! to the E.U. Constitution in a referendum this week. What’s interesting is that upper income urban voters supported the referendum and most others did not, a result that was mirrored in The Netherlands’ and France’s no votes in 2005.
What this tells me is that people who are for a more closely integrated Europe need to step up the discussion and the discourse. The people who are more active in talking about the future of Europe are the Euroskeptics. They own the debate right now and will continue to do so until those who see the benefits of a united Europe make their voices heard. Until then, here is you HCB Quote of the Week!
A very young voter. Amsterdam 2005 © Damaso Reyes
Of course it's all luck. - Henri Cartier-Bresson
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Friday, June 13, 2008, 08:59 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
Who knew posting a picture a day could be so much fun, or so topical? I took this image in Paris last fall back when you could smoke indoors. Well no more! France, like Ireland, Germany, Italy and numerous other nations have mostly banned smoking in cafes, bars and restaurants. I remember coming back to NYC from Indonesia in 2003 and being amazed that there was no longer a cloud of smoke in every bar I went into. Some people may not like it but the health benefits for smokers and non smokers alike are clear. Now Amsterdam is getting into the act according to this article. You can have a joint as long as it is tobacco free. Amazing, isn’t it?
Puff, Puff… © Damaso Reyes
In other news you have just two more days to vote in my online poll. Should Damaso shave? That is the question. So far eight people have voted and the Yes voters hold a slim, one vote margin. So make sure you voice gets heard. Results will be announced on Monday…
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Thursday, June 12, 2008, 17:04 - Commentary, Photo of the DayBrooklyn
It’s good when I can use a photograph to talk about a larger issue, something I hope to do more of with this blog and the future website. There was an interesting article in the International Herald Tribune about free speech vs. hate speech and the different approaches that America and most of the rest of the developed world has.
“Canada, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France.
Last week, the actress Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist, was fined €15,000, or $23,000, in France for provoking racial hatred by criticizing a Muslim ceremony involving the slaughter of sheep.”
By contrast, U.S. courts would not stop the American Nazi Party from marching in Skokie, Illinois, in 1977, though the march was deeply distressing to the many Holocaust survivors there,” Adam Liptak writes.
The Wall. Vienna, Austria 2008 © Damaso Reyes
This is an issue I thought a lot about when I lived in Germany last year. I have to say that I am much more in favor of the American point of view here. Of course I don’t think that we should promote or endorse hate speech. I believe that once we begin to outlaw speech then the slope becomes very slippery very quickly. It’s an old argument but once you ban some speech that is very hateful what is to stop you from banning other speech which is somewhat offensive? More importantly who gets to decide?
In Germany the way they often deal with parties and groups that are offensive is to ban them. Of course this does not mean that these ideas go away as we have seen in the racist and anti-immigrant violence that still happens there, especially in the east. These ideas and their supporters are pushed underground rather than debated and refuted in the light of day. That is what by and large happens here in America. There are people who espouse neo-Nazi points of view but whenever they plan and march usually ten times as many people turn out to oppose them. They are shown as the racist and marginal figures that they are and society is strengthened without ever having to ban a book or idea.
To me this is a much more healthy and modern way of dealing with this issue. If we believe in the “marketplace of ideas” then we have to accept that there are some bad ideas out there and as progressive people we have to work as hard as we can to oppose them. But as we have seen simply outlawing an idea doesn’t make it go away.
What do you think?
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