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Damiani : Ivan McClellan : Eight Seconds : Black Rodeo Culture


Eight Seconds : Black Rodeo Culture, the first book by photojournalist and designer Ivan McClellan is published by Damiani. It offers an inside look at Black cowboy culture across the United States in the 21st century, honouring the highest ideals of independence, integrity and grit with intimate photographs that preserve the deep-rooted connections between people and land.

Brought up in urban Kansas City, McClellan had not given much thought to cowboy culture until 2015 when he attended the USA’s longest-running Black rodeo – the Roy LeBlanc Invitational in Oklahoma – at the invitation of Charles Perry, director and producer of the documentary film The Black Cowboy: History You Cannot Hide. “It was like going to Oz – here was all this color and energy,” McClellan says “There was a backyard barbecue atmosphere … It felt like home.”

Over the next decade, he embarked on journeys across America, crafting a multi-layered look at contemporary Black rodeo culture. Whether photographing teen cowgirl sensation Kortnee Solomon at her family’s Texas stables, capturing bull riding champion Ouncie Mitchell in action, or hanging out with the Compton Cowboys at their Los Angeles ranch, McClellan chronicles the extraordinary athletes who keep the magic and majesty of the “Old West” alive with high-octane displays of courage, strength and skill.

The book’s title refers to the sport of bull riding. Athletes must stay on a bull for a total of eight seconds while it bucks; the more hectic the ride, the higher they score. It’s an apt metaphor for McClellan’s devotion to this long-form documentary project, which required him to hone his reflexes, endurance and stamina to get the perfect picture.

In a message to “the Cowboy Culture that has taken hold of me and changed my life,” Ivan McClellan writes, “You are not just a way of life but a symbol of resil­ience, courage, and determination. For centuries, you have braved the harsh conditions of the open range, tamed wild horses, and herded cattle across vast stretches of land. You have faced the unpredictable forces of nature and humankind and embraced a changing world, all while never losing your spirit.”


Ivan McClellan (born 1983) is a photojournalist based in Portland, Oregon. His work has been featured in ESPN: The Undefeated and Fast Company. As a designer, he has led projects for Nike, Adidas, Disney, and the U.S. National Soccer Team.


Eight Seconds is edited by Miss Rosen, with an introduction by Charles Sampson.
Published by Damiani at £40 €45. @damiani_books

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