From the catalogue of Museum of Modern Arts Louisiana:
"Faith, hope and love" by Jacob Holdt

Text on Jacob Holdt

Holdt's political engagement


Since the early days of his life, Holdt has continually engaged himself in the reality he was living in. In 1967, he was thrown out of The Royal Danish Palace Guard for refusing to shoot a gun. Two years later, at the age of 22, he painted Biblical quotes on the church where his father presided as a minister, in protest against the fact that money was being used on a church tower while millions of people were starving in Biafra. At the end of the 1960s Holdt was politically engaged in learning about problems in the Third World and was focused on questions surrounding the Vietnam War, motivated by a deep sense of commitment that carried him initially to Canada and then later to the United States. Holdt took part in the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations in the United States and dedicated five years of his life to documenting the lives of some of the poorest black people in America. When he returned to Denmark, he made his slide-show lecture after which he was asked to make it into his Danish book American Pictures, both of which offer an unequivocal and uncompromising statement about the social inequality between black and white people that prevailed in America at that time. A consciousness about racial differences is a salient feature of Holdt’s work. Among other things, he adamantly refused to allow a certain publishing house to publish his book in the United States because no black people were employed in the organization. Instead, he made his own efforts to set up a network among street people, homeless and criminals in the ghettoes, who then distributed and sold the book. However, Holdt’s sense of engagement also touches upon many other aspects of the society where social inequities can be spotted.

"I’ve spent so much time among black Americans and worked with the problems of black America that you might say I’ve ended up writing my own biography. …. Then there was the recent movie “Milk”, about the gay American politician, Harvey Milk, and Jyllands-Posten (the Danish daily – ed.) ran a debate that prompted me to sit down and write about my involvement with people in the gay movement. All of a sudden, I was able to see and define myself in an entirely different way. .... I have lots of pictures about other Americans than impoverished blacks."

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