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Black cowboys

Nicholas Jackson, Jackson rodeo crew, Maryland
Černí kovbojové - plakát
26. 4. 2024 - 19. 6. 2024
Bungert Sabine
Dolfen Stefan

A German team of photographers will present the life of black cowboys in North America. 

To this day the romanticised figure of the white cowboy shapes the image of the „Wild West”. Yet, this ste­reotype had little to do with reality. A quarter of the cowboys were African-Americans who played a decisive role in influencing this legendary period of American history. Hollywood has created a myth that consisted invariably of white heroes. Numerous white „Western heroes” were moulded after African-American cow­boys. As a result of this „whitewashing”, hardly anyone today knows of the existence of Black Cowboys.

In recent years, a black community has emerged in the USA calling themselves Black Cowboys. They strive for recognition as a part of American history. The modern Black Cowboys hold horses, try to keep the me­mory alive, but also see themselves as street workers and want to get young black people interested in riding and their own culture. They live in cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Charlotte or Chicago. Others run farms and train hard to participate as professional competitors in rodeos.


Sabine Bungert and Stefan Dolfen set out and followed the trail of the Black Cowboys. They wanted to cap­ture their heritage and observe its transition into today’s world; with an additional focus on the role of wo­men and girls in that community.

On their tour across the USA the photographers travelled from Maryland to California, via Arizona, New Mexico to Texas further to South and North Carolina and to Chicago. Sabine Bungert and Stefan Dolfen met numerous Black Cowboys and Black Cowgirls, a large number of different people: Rodeo riders, farm wor­kers, street workers, professional bullriders, entrepreneurs and the founder of the Black Cowboy Museum in Rosenberg, Texas. They also visited Black Cowboy Festivals as well as trail rides and rodeo events.

Sabine Bungert and Stefan Dolfen were focused on portrait photography and social documentary as well. As a result a comprehensive extensive photographic work has been created with additional video interviews. These interviews are an important part of the work, the photographers intention was, to ask the Black Cow­boys and Black Cowgirls to tell their own stories.


The project „Black Cowboys” was supported by Stiftung Kulturwerk der VG Bild-Kunst.