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Rein Jelle Terpstra talks about the Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train project

Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train. Slipcase book and pull out section with photos of Paul Fusco.

Wed, Oct 23 - Wed, Oct 23  2019

Newark Country Club

Rein Jelle Terpstra at the Newark Historical Society

This program commemorates the RFK funeral train passing through Newark, Delaware on its way to Washington, D.C. just over 51 years ago on June 8, 1968. Many people from Newark contributed to this project by sharing their stories and pictures of that day. The event will include keynote speaker Governor John Carey. It will take place on Wednesday, october 23, 7pm-9pm.

Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train – The People’s View

For this award winning book, artist Rein Jelle Terpstra has created a visual reconstruction of the Robert F. Kennedy funeral train – the train that, on 8 June 1968, transported the mortal remains of the murdered politician Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) from New York to  Washington D.C. – from the point of view of people who lined the track to pay their last respects.

The book Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train – The People’s View is awarded a Golden Medal for the Most Beautiful Book From All Over The World in Leipzig (Germany) earlier this year, the book now is now part of De Best Verzorgde Boeken 2018 (The Best Dutch Book Designs 2018). The exhibition Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train – The People’s View was shown last year at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the International Center of Photography in New York, and was later presented at the international photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles (France).

Genevieve Tarka. Linden, New Jersey, 1968. From Rein Jelle Terpstra’s “The People’s View”, 2014. Courtesy Stash Tarka.

On June 8, 1968 – a year wracked by division and violence – the casket of assassinated Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was transported on a funeral train from New York City to Washington, D.C. Around a million people united along the tracks in a spontaneous expression of grief. From aboard the slowly moving train, photographer Paul Fusco pointed his camera at the mourning Americans as they watched the train pass by. But the train itself barely appears in Fusco’s compelling photo series. Terpstra became fascinated by the question of what these people saw that day. What images had they captured on the cameras they can be seen holding in Fusco’s pictures? He decided to reverse Fusco’s perspective and began his search for the photographs and film footage the mourners shot of the passing train.

Between 2014 and 2018, significantly overlapping with the 2016 election campaign, Terpstra traveled along the same rail tracks many times, hung around train stations, knocked on people’s doors and spoke to as many people as he could. From the stories and images shared with him – including snapshots, home movies, and sound recordings of a high school band – he reconstructed Robert F. Kennedy’s final journey in his book and exhibition. The book features also ten previously unpublished photographs by Paul Fusco, an introduction by Rein Jelle Terpstra, dozens of personal reminiscences from eyewitnesses and essays by David Levi Strauss and Taco Hidde Bakker. Through working on this project, he have come to realize even more strongly the extent to which the traumatic effects of 1968 stretched far beyond the nation’s borders. The whole world was watching the United States with a mixture of fascination and bewilderment, much as it is today. With this project, he hopes to add a modest new chapter to this collective memory.

You can order the book via Rein Jelle Terpstra: mail@reinjelleterpstra.nl

About Rein Jelle Terpstra

Rein Jelle Terpstra is an internationally renowned Dutch photographer, artist and professor who spent the last few years traveling the American East Coast, including a stop in Newark (DE), to research U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral train, which passed the Newark Train Station on June 8, 1968. On board the train was Look Magazine photographer Paul Fusco, who shot photos of the crowds that lined the tracks in each small town between New York and Washington. Terpstra sought to complement Fusco’s work by collecting photos taken by the everyday citizens who turned out to pay their respect to Sen. Kennedy. He recently published a book, and his photos have been featured in museums in New York, San Francisco and France.

DutchCulture USA