Here we have another emulation of an earlier iconic photobook: Robert F. Kenndy Funeral Train by the American photographer Paul Fusco. Working for the magazine Look, on 8 June 1968 he sprang onto the train carrying the body of the murdered Robert Kennedy from New York to Washington. From the train Fusco observed the people along the track, and the people along the track looked back at him. He photographed the America that saw the the train pass by: in suits and in swimming trunks, white and black, saluting and praying, laughing and crying, waving and standing motionless.
Fifty years later the Dutch artist Rein Jelle Terpstra looked for the opposite perspective: he went in search of the photographs and home movie footage that these mourning masses took of the passing train, and he made notes of the witness statements and memories of the people who gave him the images. The result is just as impressive, with an added appreciation of time and a treasurehouse of perspectives: film sequences, Polaroids, fuzzy snapshots of the moving train, people waiting and people taking photographs, black-and-white and colour, texts and images. The basis of Jeremy Jansen’s design is the motion of the train: as it glides past, it is mirrored chronologically by the images and sequences of one amateur photographer after another. Film frames have been reproduced on black paper over opaque white, ingeniously reinforcing the feel of super8. In this way the train is followed from New York to Washington, passed on, as it were, from one amateur photographer to the next. The Japanese binding, in which the pages are folded over so that instead of having a hard front edge, the continuity of the paper seems to assist the images to run on, effectively reinforces this concept. Many of the pages also give the time when the train passed by. A loose supplement with unpublished photos by Fusco gives the perspective as seen from the train, and creates a bridge to the original book. As a project and concept this book about remembering and observing is breathtaking, its execution flawless. The result leaves one lost for words.