The Dutch photographer Rein Jelle Terpstra is in Baltimore for the next week, searching for witnesses to a cataclysmic moment in America's history
Terpstra hopes to interview current or former Baltimoreans who watched Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral train pass through the city on June 8, 1968. He’s especially interested in talking to people with a story to tell or a photograph to share.
“If RFK had lived, he would have been president,” Terpstra said. “The people who stood along the tracks taking photographs were trying to get hold of a moment in history and capture not only the funeral train or an era, but a moment in their lives.”
His inspiration for the project is Paul Fusco’s acclaimed photography book, “RFK Funeral Train.” In 1968, Fusco was a photographer for Look magazine, and he rode the train carrying Bobby Kennedy’s body, snapping photos of the people who waited at railroad crossings to pay their final respects to the dead civil rights leader.
Terpstra is attempting to do the opposite. Traveling along the East Coast, he wants to find the people who watched the train pass by and find out what they saw, heard and felt.
The results will be turned into a photography exhibit that Terpstra hopes to open in two museums nationwide next spring, as well as Terpstra’s own book accompanying the exhibit.
“In my work as a photographer and as an artist, I’m always trying to reverse the relationship between photography and memory,” he says.
Terpstra will be in Baltimore through June 27. Anyone wishing to contribute to his book can contact him by email: email@example.com.