Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train

The People’s View

Book coverRobert F. Kennedy Funeral Train
Book coverRobert F. Kennedy Funeral Train
Book coverRobert F. Kennedy Funeral Train
Book coverRobert F. Kennedy Funeral Train

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 A loose supplement with unpublished photos by Fusco gives the perspective as seen from the train, and creates a bridge to the original book.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.

Edition: 2018
Date of publication: May 2018
Author: Rein Jelle Terpstra, David Levi Strauss, Taco Hidde Bakker
Language: English
Final editor: Felix van de Vorst, Hannah Vernier
Image editor: Jeremy Jansen, Rein Jelle Terpstra
Photographer: Theodore Jack, Leon Whitmill, Claire Leary, Paul Fusco, Marina Nims, Magnum Photos and and Americans watching and photographing the RFK Funeral Train on 8 June 1968
Artist: Rein Jelle Terpstra
Publisher: Fw:Books, Amsterdam
Available through: Webshop, bookshop
Graphic designer: Jeremy Jansen (Amsterdam)
Lithographer: Marc Gijzen, Voorburg
Printer: NPN Drukkers, Breda
Binder: Patist, Den Dolder
Book producer: Jos Morree Fine Books, Weesp
Size book block (w x h x d in mm): 210 x 280 x 14
Number of pages: 144 + 16 (inlay)
Print run: 1,500
Price: € 47.50
ISBN: 978 94 90119 60 7
Font and foundry: Stanley (Optimo), Akkurat Mono (Lineto)
Binding style: Unsewn soft cover bound in Japanese style with a flap containing the inlay, dust jacket without flaps is glued at the spine.
Paper for interior (grammage): 80gsm Rainbow Black 99, 80gsm Munken Lynx, inlay: 100gsm Magno Satin, Papyrus, Antalis, Igepa
Material cover (grammage): 160gsm Rainbow Black 99, Papyrus
Special features: The slip case (1,5 mm Eskablack - Koninklijke Moorman Karton) is screen-printed by Saenscreen.
Awards: Golden Medal Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt, Leipzig 2019