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"Topography is Fate"
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Matthew Arnold, Pillbox Z97 after a sandstorm, Tobruk perimeter, Libya,
Archival pigment print, 2012/2015.
"Topography Is Fate" considers the varied landscapes of North Africa that the soldier of World War II was forced to endure. Thousands of miles from home, largely untraveled and ignorant of lands and peoples outside his home country, he was dropped onto the shores of what must have seemed to him a dangerous and alien environment—his understanding of the land limited to stereotype, myth, and the relevant army field manual.
This project presented many obstacles, not only in locating the sites but also in obtaining the necessary travel documents, finding safe lodging and transport, and avoiding groups of protestors and rebel forces. My approach is conceptual, with the photographs of the North African battlefields presented, similar to the New Topographic photographers, in a neutral tone of voice, portraying a quietness of the desert to allow viewers to fill in that negative space with their own visualization of the war.
Matthew Arnold is a photographer living in New York City. He graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he studied photography.
Arnold’s work explores our personal, historical and cultural relationship to this increasingly small and complex world. His latest project "Topography Is Fate", considers the varied landscapes of North Africa that the soldier of World War II was forced to endure.
The project has been exhibited widely across the United States and around the world in galleries and museums and has also recently been published as a monograph entitled, Topography Is Fate—North African Battlefields of World War II, by the publisher, Kehrer Verlag. His most recent honors include being named a Top 50 Emerging Photographer by both LensCulture and Photolucida.