Jacob Holdt: American Pictures 1970-1975


Above, two of the images from photographer Jacob Holdt currently on display at CNA gallery in Luxembourg.

[Holdt] was 24 years old when he decided in 1971, like many of his Danish compatriots, to travel across the American continent. He landed in Canada with the aim of rapidly crossing through the United States to get to the true destination of his travels: South America. But from the moment he crossed the Canadian border, Jacob Holdt was struck by an America characterised by poverty and the exclusion of the socially disadvantaged. In his outrage, he described the misery he was witnessing in letters to his parents who, for their part, remained incredulous. His father nevertheless sent him a small camera so that he could back up his accounts with tangible proof. And this is how the long voyage of the young Dane through the United States started, not to be completed until five years and several thousand snapshots later, with a deeply moving work: 'American Pictures 1970-1975', published as a book in 1978.

Jacob Holdt, who was nominated for this year's DeutscheBorse Photography Prize, has remained a key figure in Danish activist circles, despite having in the meantime more or less given up photography. His images of the America of the destitute of the seventies had great repercussions and to a large extent inspired the movies Dogville and Manderlay by Lars van Trier."

Link (thanks, Clayton James Cubitt!)