Dollar Decline... 
Thursday, October 25, 2007, 02:11 - Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

In case you were still wondering, the American dollar is still heading downward. Even the Indian Rupee is kicking our butt. Everyone is bailing on the Greenback. Not so bad if you are earning Euros and buying in dollars. Not so much fun if you make dollars and have to spend Euros. Thatís why I have to change things from dollars to Euros on my contributions page, but donít worry, you can still get the cheap dollar advantage at The Wish List.


Down, Down, Down...

Tomorrow I head off to the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center) to photograph. I certainly do love my science labs, donít I? It should be an interesting experience to check out a little more of the pure research side of science, I look forward to sharing photos with you soon!

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EPA Meeting 
Thursday, October 18, 2007, 14:50 - Project News
Frankfurt

Sorry I havenít been around much, after recovering from my trip to Paris and hitting the sauna I had to prepare for a meeting I had today at the European Pressphoto Agency. I went there with Philippe, a former fellow here at solitude and expert in copyright issues who is an adviser to EPA. He mentioned my project once or twice and managed to set up a meeting. So we drove from Stuttgart to Frankfurt today for what could be a life changing meeting.


© Damaso Reyes

I met with the editor in chief and the managing editor for over an hour. I talked about the background of the project, what I was trying to accomplish and the potential for collaboration with the EPA. It was a very good meeting and they were both very receptive to the project. It went as well as I could have hoped, now of course the devil is and in the details and the next few months we will see if something can be worked out. But I am very positive; it is always refreshing to meet people in the industry who are actually forward thinking and who believe in the power of images to change the world.

Tomorrow I head to Hameln where I will photograph a small Jewish congregation there. The fun never stops!

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Little Help Please... 
Friday, September 7, 2007, 21:21 - Project News
Berlin

So what is it I do all day?

Itís hard to put into words, but donít worry, I am keeping busy, mostly working on articles and looking glamorous at the Vanity Fair offices. Hard to believe that I am half way done but itís true!

In any event, lest you think that my star has risen too high, Jimmie and I cannot for the life of us find a news organization to support our application to the Pulitzer Center to go to Kosovo. Hard to believe I know but it is starting to drive me a little nuts. As much as editors complain that they canít find good stories here we are like the pretty girl at the bar, waiting for someone to notice us. So if you know some editors, feel free to pull some strings. Check out the proposal belowÖ


Domestic Violence Survivor. Kosovo, 2005

The Legacy of Rape

In 1989, when the Serbian government revoked Kosovo's status as an autonomous province within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, political analysts and activists in that country and abroad anticipated deterioration. The danger became more apparent with each passing year, even though the wars that engulfed the other parts of the former Yugoslavia did not spill over into Kosovo. By late 1996, a previously unknown guerrilla group called the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began coordinating attacks against the Serbian police. Faced with limited options at that point, the West chose military action by NATO in 1999. Taking advantage of the NATO bombing, Serbian and Yugoslav forces "ethnically cleansed" more than 850,000 Kosovar Albanians, and killed thousands more. The NATO bombing eventually forced government troops out of the province, but not before serious war crimes had been committed-atrocities which continue to poison Kosovo's post-war environment, including rape and sexual violence.

Writer Jimmie Briggs and photojournalist Damaso Reyes are proposing a feature article on the post-war legacy of rape in Kosovo and the struggle for female survivors to achieve legal justice for their attacks. Of late, the overwhelming majority of media attention on Kosovo deals with the quest for independence from Serbia, but for Kosovar women there are more pressing issues. Many who survived attacks during the war do not want to report the rapes for a variety of reasons. Some women victims of rape expressed fear that they would never be able to marry. Others felt terrified that they would be shunned by society. Many women have expressed anger at their attackers and willingness to testify at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). That willingness to testify is tempered by fear that their attackers may still be at large in Kosovo, or that they may return.

The piece which we are proposing will be built around the personal struggles and professional efforts of those in the legal rights community working on behalf of justice for women survivors. For women willing to testify, issues of witness protection and support loom large. Once open conflict broke out, the jurisdiction of the ICTY over Kosovo began. As they tried to ethnically cleanse Kosovo, paramilitaries often aided by masked Serb neighbors systematically searched villages for girls of prime, child-bearing age. It is estimated by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control that as many as 20,000 Kosovar women (4.4 per cent of the population) were raped in the two years prior to NATO forces entering. Unlike Bosnia, where international organizations were located throughout the war, the Kosovar province was on its own. We hope that through this story we can begin to shed light on the challenges that Kosovoís women face as the province moves towards independence.

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Christmas in August! 
Monday, August 27, 2007, 22:04 - Project News
Berlin

Once again I have updated The Wish List!

I am trying to make it as diverse as possible: something for every inclination and pocket book! As people who are trying to change the world it is not enough to have good intentions, we must also put our money where our mouths are, so to speak. This is one small way to do it. Of course you can always volunteer as well!

And I really need a new light meter; I managed to lose mine in New York last month!


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First Day, First Impressions 
Sunday, August 5, 2007, 18:01 - Project News
Berlin

So my first day of work was on Friday and I was very excited to get things started. I showed up bright and early and was introduced to the shiny, minimalist offices on Unter den Linden. White walls, white floors, white desks, white computers, pretty much white everything. The people were warm and friendly and didnít even seem to mind my bad German, fortunately for me. There was even some openness to one or two of the story ideas I pitched, so we shall see what comes of it.


A moment in the Floh Markt. © Damaso Reyes

Yesterday and today I made my way to a few of Berlinís famous flea markets. I picked up a few things here and there but that rare bargain Leica lens is still on the run, maybe one day I will get lucky. After spending the early afternoon in the sun (yes, it has finally warmed up here!) I met a few of the other Burns Fellows at the Beach Bar. While Berlin is not on the ocean we were still able to dig our toes in the sand and watch the tour boats wind their way along the Spree. Afterwards I met my friend Patricia, who I met at Solitude, for a quick bit to eat before she had to head back to her cell, er, I mean home in Hanover.

Back to work tomorrow but I am meeting a source later for a story I am working on, details to follow. The big question I have for you is whether I should go to ZŁrich this weekend. There is a big street party that I would like to photograph but I am a little on the fence, what do you guys think?

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Home Again.... 
Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 19:31 - Travel, Project News
New York City


© Damaso Reyes

I am sitting on a train at Pennsylvania Station waiting to go to Washington for an orientation for my Burns Fellowship. It has been an exciting twelve days here in the Big Apple, my only regret is that I couldnít stay longer. I rode the Cyclone at Coney Island; I had sushi, Thai, and Indian food. I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. I went to the Museum of Modern Art.

I bought a Leica camera!

Yes, the dream has come true and special thanks to Ken Hanson for help making it happen. Even as we speak my two film SLR cameras are sitting back in Brooklyn, only the digital camera keeps me from fully being in the world of rangefinders. I have shot a few rolls and so far it looks great. What is perhaps truly amazing is the aura that the camera gives me. No, it is not that people are impressed by it, in fact I have concealed the cameraís true identity with black tape. No, there is some about the small German machine that eliminates anyoneís objections to me taking their photograph. Time and again I stood a meter away for someone and while they registered my presence, when they saw they camera they simply shrugged, as if to say ďwell it is just a little camera.Ē Never before have I felt such freedom of movement. I think I will have a very good time over the coming years.

Now of course I want more.

So now I am off to our nationís capital for a few days before heading to the Federal Republic. Having spent six months there already I feel like I know something of what I am getting myself into but since I will actually be working during the day and speaking not a little German, it will be different. How, I am not sure but as you well know uncertainty has been my constant companion so why should I leave it behind now?

The night before I leave Stuttgart I was up late packing and cleaning my studio. I finally finished at close to 2 in the morning and I decided to walk around a bit outside. I circled the castle and made my way to the edge of the forest. The moon was nowhere to be found and only the light was the distant illumination provided by the city. I stood at the edge of the forest, at the threshold of a path that I had walked dozens of times before.

There was little that could be seen except the silhouette of the trees against the sky. I stood there for a time, staring into the forest and looking at the path which was all but invisible in the inky blackness of the quiet night. I continued my vigil and ever so slowly the dim outline of a path begun to revel itself to me.

I looked at the path, still dark, still mostly obscured and stared at the very same time at my own life. I stood at the edge and could not see very far at all but I knew the path was still there; I had walked it before, there was nothing to fear even if the exact shape of things to come could not be discerned. I smiled with that secret knowledge tucked safely away and returned for one last night in my studio before returning home.


And now I once again find myself leaving, heading down that darkened path, which I hope will eventually lead to a sunny gladeÖ

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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 canít 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 futureÖ


© 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! Itís been a lot of work but I am very excited, itís 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 donít 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 luckÖ


Music in Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
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Still Working... 
Monday, May 21, 2007, 11:28 - Project News
Stuttgart

Iím still here, working on the show which opens here at Solitude on Thursday. Youíll 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. Hereís a quick previewÖ


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 havenít been around much but I am furiously preparing for my show which opens on May 24th. If youíre 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 luckÖ


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 havenít 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 laterÖ..


A flea market in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes
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New Galleries 
Tuesday, April 17, 2007, 12:55 - Project News
Stuttgart

Well itís about time!

I have finally managed to update my website with new image galleries. I know youíre 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, thereís moreÖ


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, arenít 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?

Iím 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 didnít 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 doesnít 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. Iíve 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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