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

By Rein Jelle Terpstra. Curated by Pedro Vicente
11 June, 2022 - 12:00 to 16 October, 2022 - 15:00

On 8 June 1968, a year shaken by division and violence across the United States, the coffin of assassinated senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) was carried on a funeral train from New York to Washington, D.C. Around one million people turned out to bid farewell to RFK in a spontaneous expression of grief. On board was photographer Paul Fusco, who took pictures of the bewildered mourners as they watched the train, which for the most part remained outside the camera's lens, pass slowly by. Fascinated by what these people saw, between 2014 and 2017, Rein Jelle Terpstra carried out a thorough investigation in search of these people, gathering the photographs and home videos they took that day. 

'RFK Funeral Train—The People’s View' is based on a reversal of Fusco’s photographic perspective. Here, the mourners not only play a key role in the images taken by another person, Fusco, but become photographers and filmmakers themselves, recording and documenting this historic moment with their own cameras. This project is made up of recollections, memories, snapshots, home movies and sound, recorded by some of the many people who lined the train tracks that day, providing a meticulously elaborated vision of a parallel history, the one constructed by all sorts of people, in an alternative universe where the spectator is a witness of history from the other side.  



Rein Jelle Terpstra (Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, 1960) is a visual artist and photographer. Following a two-year post-graduate residency at Amsterdam’s Rijksakademie for Fine Art, he began investigating the relationships between perception and memory by making slide-tape installations and books. His work is held in various collections, including SFMoMA (San Francisco), MoMA Library (New York), EYE Filmmuseum (Amsterdam), Nederlands Fotomuseum (Rotterdam), The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (Brussels), Yale University Library (New Haven), and the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles). He teaches fine art and photography at Minerva Art Academy, Groningen (Netherlands). During the spring of 2017, Terpstra undertook a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship in Washington, D.C. to work on the project 'RFK Funeral Train—The People's View'. His book 'Robert F. Kennedy Funeral Train — The People’s View' was awarded the Gold Medal for Best Book Design from all over the World in 2019.​

Pedro Vicente (Terrassa, 1968) has a PhD in Fine Arts from UPV (Universitat Politècnica de València), a master’s degree in Art Theory from Goldsmiths College (London) and a BA with Honours specialising in photography from The Surrey Institute of Art & Design (Farnham, UK). He is currently director and professor of the Master of Photography and Design at ELISAVA-University Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona), outside director and professor of the Master of Photography, Art and Technique at UPV, director and professor of the online Master of Photography and Design at Shifta and visiting professor of History and Theory of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts (Farnham, UK) and the Paris College of Art (France). He was editor of the academic journal on the theory of photography 'Philosophy of Photography' (Intellect Books, London) and has published the following books 'Instantáneas de la teoría de la fotografía' (Arola, 2009), 'Álbum de familia' (La Oficina, 2013) and 'Álbum de familia y prácticas artísticas' (Diputación Provincial de Huesca, 2018). He has curated numerous exhibitions, led several conferences and seminars on photography and has published articles in various specialised media. Currently, he is the director of ViSiONA, Huesca’s image programme.