The assassination of the 35th President of the United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1963 was one of the most dramatic and traumatic events in American history. It is the subject of a new exhibition at the International Center of Photography in New York.
But this is no ordinary look back at history. The exhibition is called
‘JFK November 22, 1963: A Bystander’s View of History’ and it focuses on how amateur photographers captured this historic event.
“This exhibition focuses specifically on the photography around that event. And it makes the case that traditional photojournalism failed to capture many of the key moments of the assassination. And in the wake of that failure, what sprang up were amateur photographs taken by everyday bystanders,” said chief curator Brian Wallis.
On display are photographs taken by bystanders on the day Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Included in the exhibition are original stills from a film made by eyewitness Abraham Zapruder. Also on display is Mary Moorman’s Polaroid picture of the assassination, as well as various pictures taken by unknown photographers.
“They weren’t news photographs, they were just images that were intended as a personal keepsake or a memory of that event. And then of course they turned into historic news photographs because it was the amateurs who were closest to and who were able to record the dramatic events of the shooting itself. So of course, the home movie of Abraham Zapruder, the inexpensive Polaroid of Mary Moorman, became the images through which we remember that event today,” adds Wallis.
To some, the Kennedy presidency gave rise to “celebrity culture” and the documentation of his assassination gave rise to “citizen journalism” starting trends that continue today.
The exhibition runs until January 19, 2014 at the International
Center of Photography in New York.