Paul Fusco – RFK Funeral Train
In 1968 Paul Fusco accompanied the body of Robert Kennedy from New York City to its final resting place in Arlington Cemetery, Washington. Transported by train, the coffin was placed in the last of twenty-two cars and elevated so that it was visible through the large observation windows. However it was what lay outside the train that interested Fusco most; the track-side mourners who, silent, curious and patient, waited to pay their respects. A uniquely profound record, “RFK Funeral Train” is an oblique chronicle of the tragedy and trauma of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. In tribute to RFK’s raw empathy and his determination to make lives better across the social spectrum, hundreds of thousands of people stood patiently in the searing heat to pay their respects.
In vivid colour, Fusco’s study provides a unique exploration of a nation coming to terms with the loss of a president who never was. It presents a snapshot of a broad range of American citizens and conveys the depth of civic feeling engendered by the tragedy. With their strange blend of valediction and voyeurism, these pictures capture a decisive moment in American history, pictures in which the subject is forcibly absent. In an equally profound way ‘RFK Funeral Train’ offers a salient and instructive contrast to the diminishing levels of affection that the public hold towards the political classes of today.
Paul Fusco was born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1930. He joined Magnum Photos in 1974.
A Magnum touring exhibition in association with Ffotogallery