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Preview: The Europeans

The Europeans

© 2005-2015 Damaso Reyes All Rights Reserved

Copyright: Copyright 2018, Damaso Reyes

Black Lives in Germany: A Multigenerational Struggle for Acceptance

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 21:07:35 GMT

You may remember the stories I worked on about the lives of Germans of African descent.


I'm happy to let you know that The Root has published a story based on that work. Please have a look!

Listen to the sounds of Europe

Tue, 09 Feb 2016 16:46:27 GMT

I’m excited to announce that an audio artwork I’ve created has been featured on Earlid! It’s an online gallery of evolving exhibits of sound art. I’m one of ten artists selected for their second Liminal Sounds exhibition and I hope you’ll take a listen.


Growing up I’d always listen to the radio as I fell asleep. Sometimes I’d tune into the local news channel; other times it would be classical music. But I always had something playing in the background. Today when I’m working on the computer I consistently have something playing in the background.

When I began work on The Europeans I brought an audio recorder with me. At first it was just to record the interviews I did for the articles I occasionally wrote but soon I began collecting ambient audio as well for no particular reason. As my project evolved I realized that I could use these words and sounds to, along with my photographs, help connect the viewer to a time and place they had never been. This piece you hear is a shorter version of an hour long audio installation I’ve created. I’m looking forward to exploring the nexus of imagery and sound more deeply as I complete this project.

Refugees Welcome?

Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:11:31 GMT

It's strange when something you've been paying attention to for a long time suddenly becomes interesting to those around you.


But Europe's ongoing refugee crisis has become large enough that even though who don't want to are paying attention. I wrote about the closing of Europe's open door recently for the World Policy Blog and talked about it on the World Policy On Air podcast. I hope you take some time to read and listen.

Listening to Black Lives

Tue, 20 Oct 2015 17:01:02 GMT

For those of you who missed my three part series about the experiences of people of African descent in Germany and Poland that aired on KSFR’s Here and There with Dave Marash you’re in luck! You can now listen to all three programs.


Click here to listen to my report about West Germany.

Click here to listen to my report about East Germany.

Click here to listen to my report about Poland.

Each story is accompanied by a discussion with the legendary Dave Marash through which we dig deeper into the issues raised in each report. Thanks for listening!

Poland For Poles

Thu, 08 Oct 2015 18:31:06 GMT

Tonight the third and final radio documentary piece, this time focusing on the lives and experiences of people of African descent in Poland airs at 7:05pm Eastern time on


"As a child there were some times that I just wanted to be white and normal… I just wanted to be and have all this problem go away just be accepted by the rest of the kids.” -Damian Abushe, Afro-Polish hacktavist.

You can find podcasts of the three part series here:

East Is East

Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:35:33 GMT

Part two of my three part radio documentary series airs on at 7:05pm Eastern Time on Here and There with Dave Marash. Today we’ll hear the stories of people of African descent who grew up under Communist Rule in East Germany. Unlike in West Germany, where the influence of American soldiers was widely felt, in East Germany it was the thousands of students brought from Africa to study that laid the basis for that nation’s Afro-German population.


“Sometimes I felt something without being aware of what it was exactly. I thought it depended on my color somehow but because it was a socialist or a kind of communist country and it was said that everybody is treated equal and there is no racism and there is no discrimination at all… It was more or less not allowed this kind of feelings. It was even problematic to talk to my mother about this,” Aminata Cisse Schleicher told me.

The Lives of Black Folks

Mon, 05 Oct 2015 16:32:39 GMT


Today the first of these three documentaries airs of KSFR Santa Fe on Here and There, hosted by Dave Marash at 5:05 p.m. Mountain Time/7:05 p.m. Eastern Time and you'll be able to listen to the podcast of each show here. Following each of the documentaries Dave and I talk about what I found and expand upon the profound stories that each of my interview subjects shared. In total I interviewed over three dozen people for these reports and while many people's stories didn't make it to air I know I learned from everyone I spoke to and I thank them deeply.


Thomas Hurst for example spoke about the mental health impact of growing up biracial in Germany had on him.

"I believe there is some post traumatic stress syndrome as a part of growing up in Germany. You never know if you can go through the day without any racism. I really believe I do have some mental problems a part of racism."


Fashion designer Tanja Herring spoke about a multi-generational struggle for acceptance.

"I would say I'm nation-less. The Blacks don't really accept you because you're too light and the white people say 'no you're too dark for us'…. You always feel kind of lonely."

These are just a few of the stories you'll hear today. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Time and Again

Mon, 06 Jul 2015 10:59:19 GMT

The events of the past few days may or may not be remembered as a turning point. The truth is no one knows how things will turn out. What we do know is that the Greek people have voted for a fairer settlement and that the ball is now in the court of Europe's leaders.


"Those who want to chase Greece out of the Eurozone today will end up on the trash heap of history. If the Chancellor wants to secure her place in the history books, just like [Helmut] Kohl did during reunification, then she must forge a solution to the Greek question, including a debt conference where we can start with a clean slate." said Thomas Piketty.

What Europe has been able to create over the last sixty years is nothing short of amazing. But that creation is very easy to destroy. Now is not the time to look for someone to blame. Rather Europe must pull back from the brink and remember that it is both more than the some of its parts and stronger together than it is apart.

Hitting the Streets!

Wed, 13 May 2015 09:42:12 GMT

Buncrana, Ireland

Last weekend we took to the streets of Buncrana and Letterkenny here in Ireland for two street photography workshops I taught.


It was a wonderful opportunity to share my perspectives on this artform. We survived some showers and had a grand time.


And special thanks to Kodak Alaris who donated film which was provided to the lucky and smart participants who still shoot film!


The Great Debate

Mon, 11 May 2015 09:34:38 GMT

Buncrana, Ireland

We had a great discussion on Saturday about the future of Europe and Ireland's place it in.


I'm grateful to MEP Marian Harkin and Artlink’s Declan Sheehan and Damian Dowds, editor of the Inishowen Independent who moderated the discussion.

For me this discussion was an important opportunity to use art as a starting point for an important conversation. We attracted many people who otherwise would not have come to the gallery which is a wonderful thing.

You can listen to the discussion here.

The Europeans Now on View in Ireland

Mon, 04 May 2015 09:28:08 GMT

Buncrana, Ireland

If you happen to be in Donegal this month come up to Fort Dunree and see my latest exhibition which is on view through the end of May.


We're also having a panel discussion about the future of Europe and Ireland's place in it on Saturday May 9th.

So I hope you can make it to see the show or to our discussion!


Time Travel Machine

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:11:22 GMT

What are photographs, what are portraits but a kind of time travel machine?


Through the image we can stare across time and space and be transported, however fleetingly, to a place and time we have never been. Yet through the image we do have at least a sense of having been there.


The Photographer's Mirror

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:05:42 GMT

A portrait is many things but as one photographer once told me "every photograph is a self portrait."


This project has always been about people first and foremost. Through my images and especially my portraits, I try to connect the viewer to the subject so that they may understand something about the lives these people are leading and how the river of history runs through their experiences.


So what does this say about me? Well I leave that for you to decide...

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Fri, 02 Jan 2015 13:20:45 GMT

Last year was a busy one and not all of that involved photography.


I donated a kidney and had my first public art installation among other things.


I think this past year has put many things in perspective for me, not least of which is how much photography is really about other things. It's about reading and research but it's also about living and being. I'm a lot less concerned about the number of rolls of film I shoot than I ever have been.

And They Called Themselves The Europeans Video

Fri, 26 Dec 2014 19:30:45 GMT


I know most of you couldn’t make it to Switzerland to see my multimedia installation And They Called Themselves The Europeans. So I created a short video to give you a sense of what it was like.

Back in BCN!

Sat, 15 Nov 2014 17:12:33 GMT



After a long recovery since donating a kidney in August I find myself back in Barcelona! I'm working on a few things Europeans related as well as editing more images so stay tuned!

New Media

Mon, 06 Oct 2014 18:07:16 GMT

Many of you read the profiles I created during my fellowship with the French-American Foundation. Now is your chance to hear some of the voices of those I profiled as well in a short multimedia piece I created.


On The Air

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:04:00 GMT

Recently my interview with the legendary Dave Marash aired on KUNM. We had a wide ranging discussion which centered around immigration in Europe and my work on The Europeans. If you’d like to hear it just visit this link: http://hereandtherewithdavemarash.libsy ... ela-diaz

and click on the POD icon or click here



Mon, 08 Sep 2014 18:01:03 GMT

Just to let you know everything went very well! Both Jimmie and I are recovering and the surgery was a complete success. I won't be posting all that much over the next few weeks but thanks for all of your thoughts.


On Giving

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:58:57 GMT


Today I’m donating a kidney to my best friend, Jimmie Briggs. This process has given me a lot to think about and in response I’ve written this.

On Giving

It’s easier than receiving for most of us, let’s just get that out of the way first. To give is to be lauded. To give is to have power. To receive, or rather more accurately to be in need, is to be weak and often powerless. When we give we feel generous. Afterall, they don’t name buildings after those who have asked but rather after those who have, mostly after being asked, have given.

None of this makes giving any less important or necessary. It’s just to say that having to ask, as any of us who have been in that position can attest, is unpleasant. Who doesn’t want to feel needed? Who doesn’t want to feel as though the choice we make can save someone in however small a way?

This is a defense of receiving.

I have asked and I have received in my life. I have received without asking as well. And of course I have asked and not received. And for that I am a better person. To ask is to be weak. To ask is to be vulnerable. To ask is to acknowledge both to yourself and the person of whom you ask that you are in need.

To ask is to confront your own limitations. It is to accept your humanity because in fact we are only human in relation to one another. This means we, at some point, will be in need. No matter what the need is objectively, whatever that means, in that moment it is everything to the person who is asking.

To receive is to be delivered from the belief that we can live this life alone. It is a reaffirmation of who we are at our very core: interdependent.

It is a hard lesson to learn: that we exist not just for each other but because of one another. None of us would be here but for someone else. To understand this is one thing; to know this is quite another.

So we stand amongst each other. Giving and receiving in turn. Being grateful when we receive and feeling grateful to be able to give. We grow in the shade of one another and smile that we have had this time together.

And in the end we learn that all we have is the ability to give and take. Realizing in the end that they are, in fact, the very same thing.

Why I Am Donating My Kidney On Tuesday

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 21:54:08 GMT

New York City

I've been back in New York for the past five weeks for an important reason.

Next week if all goes well I’ll be donating my kidney to my best friend, author and activist Jimmie Briggs. If you knew him as I do you’d want to give him your kidney too, he’s that kinda of guy.

It’s not a decision I’ve come to lightly but when I found out three years ago that Jimmie and I were the same blood type I knew I had to get tested. He had advanced kidney disease and needed dialysis three times a week to stay alive.

A friend who had given me so much personal and done so much for so many others was in need. How could I stand by and simply watch?

To be human is to be in constant need. Sadly we spend so much of our lives denying this simple fact, denying the idea that not only do we from time to time need each other’s support but that on a fundamental level it is our very interconnectedness, our inescapable and fundamental need for one another than defines us. Our pride, vanity and ego get in the way of allowing us to be vulnerable, in fact to be truly who we are.

The Next Generation

Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:55:10 GMT


I'm always struck by how many young people are involved in keeping this tradition alive.


City on a Hill

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:05:29 GMT


And they can go higher still!

The Human Bridge

Tue, 24 Jun 2014 23:03:12 GMT


It's amazing to see these towers come to life.


Political Sport

Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:01:00 GMT

Of course politics finds its way into this sport as well.


But it's really about teamwork.


The Builders

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 23:12:37 GMT

Higher and higher still!

The Highest Peak

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 19:53:58 GMT

One of the most interesting traditions I've photographed is the building of human towers here in Spain.


Every two years a huge gathering is held where different teams compete to build the most complex towers.


Over the next few posts I'll share some of what I've encountered!

BCN Sights

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 00:22:34 GMT


It's a place that draws me close even when I'm far away.


Goodbye and Hello!

Fri, 13 Jun 2014 19:34:36 GMT


It has been a lot of fun to spend time in Switzerland but now it is time to return to Barcelona!



Sun, 01 Jun 2014 18:31:08 GMT

Zurich, Switzerland