The Road Home... 
Wednesday, October 4, 2006, 18:30 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Aboard SwissAir flt 14 to JFK

I'm finally headed back to New York! Often short trips where you try to pack everything into a few days are more draining than a long one when you can take your time. While I did not manage to get to see nearly all of Berlin, I did get to do some shooting and I have some story ideas I do want to follow up on when I return to Germany next year.

As much as I would like to do one more trip to Europe before January I think my time, not to mention resources, would be better spent learning some German and otherwise preparing for next year, after all I don't know when I will be getting back to New York.

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To the German People... 
Tuesday, October 3, 2006, 18:20 - Shooting
Berlin

The Bundestag Dome interior

It's another crisp and sunny day here in the Federal Republic. Right now I am waiting in line to enter the Bundestag and it looks like it will be a little while until I get inside. Tomorrow morning I head back to NYC and I have to say it has been a short but productive trip. I even managed to shoot some film though of course not nearly as much as I would have liked. But I am ready to head back and get some work done. I'm also thinking of trying to take some German lessons when I get back in preparation for next year, anyone know a good place?



Exterior





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Remembering? 
Tuesday, October 3, 2006, 01:10 - Shooting, Personal, Commentary
Berlin

Today was cool and windy with the sun hidden behind what seemed like a never-ending series of gray clouds. I wandered around the heart of the city. I managed to make my way over to the Bundestag and the Brandenburg gate where some kind of festival and concert was happening (btw, what possesses people all over the world to perform bad covers of 20 year old American pop songs?).

I was walking south to Potzdamer Platz when I encountered the holocaust memorial. It really is a beautiful and somber place but of course that didn't stop kids from playing hide and seek and teenagers from getting high among the hundreds of black monoliths. How long does it take for a monument to lose it's meaning? Clearly the youngest generation seems to have lost what used to be called 'German guilt' but is it a good thing or not? I suppose it is important not to be a prisoner of the past or totally bound by the sins of our fathers but I have to say it was a little unnerving to hear laughter at the monument to six million dead.


Berlin's Holocaust Memorial

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Performance Art? 
Monday, October 2, 2006, 02:22 - Shooting, Commentary
Berlin

On my way home I passed by an art gallery that was having an opening and stopped in. An interesting side note: in America the booze at openings is always free, here you have to pay. So the theme of the show way adult oriented complete with performances. Nothing lewd but these Germans sure know how to have a good time! Now I am back at the flat, which by the way reminds me of some East Village tenements in NYC I used to hang out in during my irresponsible youth, trying to connect to the wireless but I can't seem to type it the incredibly long password my host set up!

Here's a camera phone pic.

All Tied Up...
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Another Brick in the Wall 
Sunday, October 1, 2006, 21:36 - Travel, Shooting, Personal, Commentary
Berlin



The Wall via camera phone

Here I am sitting on part of what's left of the Berlin wall thinking that's it's hard to imagine a more historic change than that one. But in many ways the slow transformation that Germany and the rest of Europe is going through is just as profound. Sitting here just gives me a little perspective on the history that I have been witness to in my short life and how much more I have to look forward to.


A mural of American Mumia Abu Jamal

Don't worry, I haven't spent the whole day thinking so hard. Earlier I went to three of Berlin's flea markets and picked up some gift as well as some great old postcards which you might be receiving if you're lucky! Tomorrow I think I will tour more of scenic Berlin and maybe some museums if they aren't all closed on Monday....

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Chillin' 
Sunday, October 1, 2006, 20:06 - Shooting, Commentary
Berlin

Last night was pretty laid back, I just had dinner with a fellow photog and his family. Afterwards I wandered around town, caught the end of an art gallery opening and walked home, no small feat given the distances involved.

On my way back I encountered a group of Punks who between drinks were trying to make some money washing the wind shields of cars stopped at the intersection. I was amused because this, like the graffiti you see everywhere here in Berlin, is something we used to have in New York. At first they were a bit wary but I managed to take about a roll of what I hope will be interesting pictures of the 'other Berlin'.

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The Big Night 
Thursday, February 2, 2006, 20:41 - Shooting, Personal, Project News, Events
New York City

Happy New Year!

Okay, itís a month late but itís the thought that counts, right? Tonight is the opening of the group show I am in at E3 gallery here in New York. After processing all my film and doing quite a bit of printing, the big day is here. I have selected a group of images from my two trips to Kosovo last year. I am pretty happy with the work that I am showing.


A very exciting invitation.

While the show is small it feels like a big step for me. This is the first time that I am showing work from The Europeans, one of what I hope will be many work in progress shows over the next few years. As an artist, I spend a great deal of time working in my own little bubble, not really interacting with people about my work. Tonight I will be presenting my vision to the public, or at least the friends who show up. Putting oneís work out there is always a little bit nerve racking but I believe deeply in this project, no matter how other people might react to the images I show tonight.

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Home again, home again... 
Tuesday, November 15, 2005, 01:33 - Travel, Shooting, Project News
Barcelona, Spain

Well today was my last full day in town and I decided to spend it once again wandering about. I took the tram across the harbor and had lunch near the beach. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and I am hoping that I can make it back soon.


Barcelona from the air. ©Damaso Reyes

Now it is time to focus on heading back to New York. I will be working on processing this film and printing for a upcoming group show at E3 Gallery. I got a sponsored artist fellowship and get to use the darkroom which will be invaluable to dealing with the dozens and dozens of rolls of film that I have shot over the past weeks.

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Man about town... 
Sunday, November 13, 2005, 00:24 - Shooting, Personal, Project News
Barcelona, Spain

I have spent the past few days coming into town and wandering the streets, visiting museums and monuments including several of Gaudiís masterpieces including the park that he created.


The facade of one of Gaudi's chruches. ©Damaso Reyes

Barcelona is a lovely city. The beach is quite nice, even in November and the people are relatively friendly and there are quite a few expats around. Much like New York, Barcelona is a walking city. The subway is also very easy to navigate and reasonably priced, all things that I am looking for in a city to live in.


Staring at a masterpiece. ©Damaso Reyes

Even when I do settle down in one place, my goal is to spend the better part of each month traveling and shooting. Perhaps two to four weeks out and about shooting a particular story or in a city and then one to three weeks back at base processing, scanning, printing, researching the next shoot and relaxing when I can. This is the plan, anyway.


The top of a steeple. ©Damaso Reyes

In order to make this happen I will have to begin the process of securing more long term funding so I can have the flexibility to run off and shoot something Iím interested in when the mood strikes. Until then I will be applying for grants and artist in residency programs. While I knew there would be a lot of writing and applying involved in this project I donít think I knew just how much of my time would be spent in front of the computer doing research or sending emails. I suppose thatís why I enjoy being out in the field shooting so muchÖ


Looking out over the city. ©Damaso Reyes
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Bright lights, big city 
Tuesday, November 8, 2005, 22:10 - Travel, Shooting
Barcelona, Spain

It took me some time to get it together enough to catch the bus into town but it was certainly worth the wait. Before finally heading into Barcelona, I managed to take a trip up Montserrat and visit the famous monastery and shrine to the Black Madonna, which was very impressive.


The enrance to the church of our Lady of Montserrat. ©Damaso Reyes

I have spent the day wandering around Barcelona, tourist map in hand. I visited one of the larger food markets, which provided a number of interesting images . I also ďfoundĒ one of the cityís many Irish pubs and had a nice, thick Guinness. The vibe here is a good one, in many ways Barcelona reminds me of New York. Perhaps this will become my base of operations once I am here in Europe full time?


A nice, thick Guinness. ©Damaso Reyes


A vendor at a food market. ©Damaso Reyes


Fancy some fresh mushrooms? ©Damaso Reyes
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A glass of wine please... 
Thursday, November 3, 2005, 23:02 - Shooting
El Bruc, Spain

As I drove up to Can Serrat, the art center where I a staying, lunch was being served outside and I got to enjoy a lovely meal with some great local wine. After nearly three weeks on a dry Army base it was nice to be able to have a few glasses and know I wonít have to wake up at 06:45 for some mission, as much fun as those missions were.


An orchard near Can Serrat. ©Damaso Reyes

I got to explore a bit in the afternoon. El Bruc is a tiny town about 45 minutes away from Barcelona at the foot of Montserrat. The countryside here very quite lovely and I think I am going to have a very nice stay here. I donít really have too many plans to shoot, I think this part of my trip will be much more free form and less regimented, which should produced different imagesÖ.

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Hard Work 
Wednesday, November 2, 2005, 04:51 - Shooting
Camp Bondsteel

My time here in Kosovo grows short but I am still being productive, trying to do as much as I can in what time I have left. As always, there never seems to be enough time to work on all the stories that I discover but I suppose that means I will just have to come back.

Today I went to Liria, which is the only shelter for victims of domestic violence here in Kosovo. Itís a story I first learned about during my last trip but there wasnít time to arrange a visit. Luckily for me the soldiers here have been working with Liria a lot over the past few months and I was able to go there and talk to the staff as well as a young woman who is living there.


A young victim of domestic violence. ©Damaso Reyes

These women are doing some tremendous work against some very difficult odds. Many men in this ďtraditionalí society donít want to see women empowered and they have struggled to get support from the local government for their activities. But the women of Liria are passionate and I know they will continue to do their work despite the obstacles.

Read the story I wrote on Liria
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Huffing and Puffing 
Tuesday, October 25, 2005, 21:38 - Shooting, Personal
Camp Bondsteel

One of these days I am going to have to get into shape, I swear!

Today I spent the day on a very interesting mission. Over the past few years one of the things the United Nations has been doing is finding and identifying the bodies of people who went missing or were killed during the war. Today we got up early and went out on one of these missions which entailed hiking for a few kilometers up and down some hills to the sport where the body was discovered.


Clearing mines. ©Damaso Reyes

As one gets older, you often think that the ravages of time donít have an impact, well Iím not yet at 30 and I can say that whatever physical prowess I had seems to have left me. I guess I never considered how fit those gym classes in high school kept me. Oh well.


A UN worker places the remains in a body bag. ©Damaso Reyes

After all the huffing and puffing was done, we got to the site and unearthed the bodies, after some of the soldiers made sure there were no mines. I can say with some certainty that exhumations donít get easier to photograph over time. Still I feel I got some good photos.

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Once again, with feeling 
Friday, October 21, 2005, 01:13 - Shooting
Camp Bondsteel

Itís dťjŗ vu all over again.

Here I am once again at Camp Bondsteel and this trip has been even more productive than the last. I have been on several interesting missions including a search and cordon mission with German troops who were looking for smuggled weapons. We had to get up very, very early so that everyone at the compound they were searching would be asleep. We got to fly in on Blackhawk helicopters through the mountains, which was pretty cool and ridiculously cold. I donít think they ended up finding any weapons in the end but I did get some good images.


A German Soldier prepares for the mission. ©Damaso Reyes

I have been going out a lot more with different units and getting a chance to see how they interact with the population, which is good. I think the next time I come through these parts I wonít embed. I think Kosovo will become one of the touchstones of this project, a place that I visit from time to time to see how it progresses.

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Back to New York 
Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 15:15 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Amsterdam

Well I am headed back home to New York after shooting in three different countries and traveling a few thousand miles. I have shot well over a hundred rolls of film and Iím very much looking forward to seeing the results.

I think I can begin to see how the narrative thread of this project will emerge, though I think it will become much clearer the more that I shoot. Thatís a relief because one of my major concerns going into all this was how it would all tie together to create something that made sense. I am always a bit nervous before a big trip but I think the past few months are a good indication that this project can be successful. It is still going to take a lot of work and elbow grease but I am having a great time shooting this and am looking forward to returning to Europe in the early fall to continue shooting. Now the only questions are where will I go and what will I do?

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