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Last Flight - An American Anthology
A solo exhibition by Peter Funch
On July 2, 1937 the beloved aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean. The same year the Works Progress Administration began construction on a bridge, which would later bear her name. It crossed the Missouri River between Buchanan County, Missouri and, Atchison, Kansas, Earhart’s hometown. Earhart was declared dead in absentia in 1939, the same year the bridge was completed. Evidence favors the theory that Earhart’s death coincided with her disappearance. However her mysterious fate continues to attract alternate speculation - that she survived under a new identity. Some say she became a spy for Franklin D. Roosevelt. Others say she was the infamous Tokyo Rose. Or that she survived the crash and was later captured and executed by the Japanese.
In 2007 the Amelia Earhart Bridge was deemed unsafe. A replacement bridge was built and opened for traffic on December 2012. The original bridge was demolished on October 9, 2013. The twisted steel of the old bridge sitting on the bed of the Missouri River evokes the imagery of the probable end of Amelia and her plane. The transposed identity of the new bridge, alongside the old, recalls the myth of her survival.
This is the prologue for Peter Funch’s ambitious new project Last Flight: An American Anthology. In 75 photographic works, Funch takes us on a visual journey to Atchison, Kansas and the “event” of the demolition of the Amelia Earhart Bridge. The project combines all of Peter Funch’s artistic talents from intimate snapshots over sober photojournalism to complex, vivid and well planned compositions. The works span from the dramatic epicenter of the event; the demolition shot with drones and the use of multiple cameras to the periphery where life is lived before and after, disturbed or indifferent. These images tell the same story from different points of view. They are all two sides of the same coin. Flies in a spider’s web may be stars in the sky. Religious order may be the order of bees. When paired or presented in the same space, multiple viewpoints prompt a transition of seeing, from what is in front of you to what is not. In the emptiness between the images the story emerges.
Funch’s anthropological approach sets the stage for a fragmented framework. A beautiful broken language where the viewer is engaged in creating a narrative. The framework of the project is mirrored in the exhibition installation, where temporary wooden walls have been erected, and works in various sizes – from medium (30x40 cm) to very large (137x187 cm) hung on the walls and placed on the floor - fill both gallery rooms and the basement level. Last Flight is a monumental project in many ways, as one monument is destroyed and sinks into a river, a myriad of themes emerges: a town, a country, a world in rapid transition. Causality, myth, fact, fiction, destruction and creation coexist in Last Flight. Peter Funch’s intention is not to draw conclusions, but rather to open doors and instigate reflection.
Peter Funch, born 1974, Denmark, lives and works in New York. Funch has spent the better part of two years researching and producing this new body of work. His seminal project Babel Tales was completed in 2010 and has been widely exhibited and publicized. Funch’s works have recently been shown at Paraty Em Foco, International Photo Festival – Brazil, Fotografisk Center - Denmark, The Eye Is A Lonely Hunter – Images Of Humankind, Photo Festival Mannheim – Germany and Living, Frontiers of Architecture III & IV, Louisiana, Museum of Modern Art – Denmark.Download PDF