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."
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