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28 Aug 13 - 21 Sep 13

Marching To The Freedom Dream

Dan Budnik



Trolley Books is proud to announce the forthcoming exhibition and publication by American photojournalist Dan Budnik, presenting his significant body of work documenting the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibition will open in Trolley’s TJ Boulting Gallery in London, on Wednesday 28th August, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. The exhibition will also coincide with a four week Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the publication, which is planned for Spring 2014.

Non-violence was always the guiding principle for Dr. King’s directions and actions: “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral….The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding…. because it thrives on hatred rather than love…. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.” Budnik’s photographs also show us the peaceful Youth March for Integrated Schools in 1958, organised by Harry Belafonte and Bayard Rustin, where the White House gates were rudely slammed in the faces of the petitioners. Later in March of 1965, the Selma to Montgomery March was executed decisively in the heart of the segregationist American South, and became Dr. Martin Luther King’s greatest achievement.

King’s ‘Dream’ speech launches both the exhibition and the beginning of the campaign for the book, the first of a series of 50th anniversaries over the next few years, including the Civil Rights Act in 2014 and the Selma to Montgomery March and the Voting Rights Act in 2015. It resonates with contemporary struggles of many people throughout the world today. Just as King was influenced by Gandhi’s passive resistance in India, utilising soul force to combat brute force, today we reflect on Nelson Mandela’s role as one who propagated the non-violent message in gaining civil rights for his people. Recently the Supreme Court in the US eviscerated the hard-won National Voting Rights Act, much to the sadness of President Obama.

The exhibition will feature black and white prints with the hand-written captions by Budnik, as well as an interview talking about the history he was a part of, with his stills of the Civil Rights movement. As Budnik says, “I hope that the images convey my point of view, like that of Dr. King’s, showing that non-violence is the only way to affect political and social change. Anything less will always diminish the future of the human race.”

BIOGRAPHY: Dan Budnik (b.1933, Long Island, NY) studied painting at the Art Students' League of New York. After being drafted, he started photographing the New York school of Abstracts Expressionist artists in the mid-fifties, making it a primary focus for several decades. He made major photo-essays on Willem de Kooning and David Smith, among many other artists. It was his teacher Charles Alston at the Art Students' League of New York, the first African American to teach at the League, who inspired his interest in documentary photography and the budding Civil Rights Movement.

In 1957 he started working at Magnum Photos, New York, assisting several photographers, notably Cornell Capa, Burt Glinn, Eve Arnold, Ernst Haas, Eric Hartmann and Elliott Erwitt. In March 1958 Budnik travelled to live with the underground in Havana for 6 weeks during the Cuban revolution. Budnik continued to work with Magnum for half of his time, until joining as an associate member in 1963. In 1964 he left Magnum and
continued specialising in essays for leading national and international magazines, focussing on civil and human rights, ecological issues and artists.

Since 1970 Budnik has worked with the Hopi and Navaho traditional people of northern Arizona, and received for this work a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1973 and a Polaroid Foundation Grant in 1980. In 1998 he was the recipient of the Honor Roll Award of the American Society of Media Photographers. He lives and works in Tucson and Flagstaff, Arizona.