Monday, 2 June 2008

Trained eye

8th June 1968 - Americans pay their respects to Robert Kennedy

A few years ago i saw a set of images on the TV that really caught my attention. Unfortunately i never noted the name of the photographer at the time but thankfully a recent post on the blog 'The Year in pictures' featured the photographer Paul Fusco, who took these fantastic images.

On the 8th June 1968, the body of Robert Kennedy was taken from New York to Washington so that he could be buried beside his brother at Arlington. Paul Fusco accompanied the train as the photographer for LOOK magazine and was surprised and fascinated to see vast numbers of people, who had spontaneously come out to pay their respects to a man who had been one of the most inspirational politicians in American history. During the slow eight hour journey, Fusco took over 2000 images documenting the estimated one million people who had turned out on the unusually hot Saturday.

Paul Fusco believes that the event and images represent the end of hope but for me, the images show the real respect that many Americans felt for Robert Kennedy- they also show that unshakeable American spirit. My favourite image is of a family, all lined up as if they were on a parade ground, honouring the man as the train goes by. That image seems to stand out from among the other fantastic photographs; each one a valuable record of the USA at the end of the 1960's. The images are like a mass portrait of America in 1968, the faces, fashions, cars, streets captured as they really were. They not only document the event -they also document the USA and, best of all, its people.

A book by Paul Fusco called 'RFK' will be published in September by Aperture.

The New York Times has a great audio visual piece that can be viewed HERE

A superb NYT article about the event and images that can be viewed HERE

The Year in Pictures/ Pictures from a train

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