Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train - The People's View (book and exhibition)

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Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train - The People's View

June 8, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the RFK funeral train. Up to one million Americans stood along the railway, paying their respects as the train slowly made its way from New York City to Washington, D.C. This book is a reflection on that day in the form of photographs, film stills, and the personal recollections of eyewitnesses. The beautiful color photographs taken for Look magazine by the photographer Paul Fusco from aboard the Robert F. Kennedy funeral train originally triggered my search for the reverse photographic perspective: What were these bystanders looking at and what did they see? The only way to find out was to look through their cameras and start searching for the people's views: the photos and films they had made of the events surrounding the journey of the RFK funeral train, including images of the very train itself, which remained outside Fusco's lens.

From early 2015 through summer 2017, I visited nearly every city, town, and neighborhood through which the train passed. I always had my copy of the book Paul Fusco: RFK (Aperture, 2008) with me. I knocked on many doors and hung around railway stations and bowling alleys. Thus I met many people and was able to collect their photographs of the event, including blurred snapshots, color and black-and-white photos, and Kodachrome slides, in addition to a handful of 8mm home movies. Furthermore, I recorded several personal interviews with people as they reflected on this particularly turbulent moment in American history, now almost half a century ago.
I hope to make a contribution to the American collective memory. 1968 was marked by political and social upheaval, including the Civil Rights Movement, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and RFK, and the ongoing war in Vietnam. The world looked at America with a mixture of fascination and disbelief.

Information about the book:
The book is a photographical reconstruction of the famous delayed train journey and an homage to RFK and the beautiful photo series by Paul Fusco. I have linked these images together, in the spirit of the people who stood side by side along the tracks in 1968.
This book also contains a section with 10 so far unpublished photos taken by Paul Fusco from aboard the funeral train.

The American art critic and poet David Levi Strauss and the Dutch writer Taco Hidde Bakker had written a comprehensive essay for the book on the relationships between photography, history, and contemporary politics in light of the people's views of the RFK funeral train as collected for this project.

The photobook is a joint publication between two non-profit publishers of photography and art books: Fw:Books (Amsterdam) and the Magnum Foundation (New York City).
The book will be published in June 2018. If you are interested in purchasing this book, just send me an email: or visit the publisher's website:

Photographs and film stills: By Americans who stood along the railway on June 8, 1968

Essays by David Levi Strauss, Taco Hidde Bakker and Rein Jelle Terpstra, and a fine selection of letters and quotes from eyewitnesses.

Editing: Rein Jelle Terpstra

Graphic design: Jeremy Jansen

Translation and text editing: Felix van de Vorst, Hannah Vernier, and Taco Hidde Bakker.

Size: approx. 8 x 10.5 inches (203 mm × 267 mm)

Retail price: approx € 47,50/$ 55

Publication date: June 2018

All image rights belong to the owners of the images and are published with their full consent.

The book will also feature the names of all the participants who had confidence in this project and helped me by sharing their personal images, films, and stories.

About myself:

I was born on July 4, 1960 (Independence Day! ), so I was nearly eight years old when RFK was assassinated. My father was very fond of the United States and all things American, in addition to being a true Kennedy admirer. He told us many stories about the Kennedys, which have left an imprint on me ever since. Later, as an artist, especially after a residency at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Amsterdam), I began working with photography in relation to the theme of memory. My photo projects - slideshow installations and books - investigate the relationships between perception, memory, and the absence of images. My work is held in various collections, including the collection of artists' books at the MoMA Library (New York), The Royal Museum of Arts (Brussels), Yale University Library (New Haven), and the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles). Furthermore, I was nominated for the Dutch Doc Award in 2014, and I teach fine arts and photography at Minerva Art Academy, Groningen (NL).
During the spring of 2017, I undertook a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship in Washington, D.C. to work on the project RFK Funeral Train - The People's View (2014-2018).

Project Facebook page:

This project is on show now at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, will be exhibited in Les Rencontres D'Arles (France 2018), the International Center of Photography (New York City 2018) and the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2019).