Amelia Earhart is one of the world's most celebrated aviators. She was an aviation pioneer who did not know fear. “The fears are paper tiger”, she wrote, “You can do anything you decide to do.” Guided by intrepid spirit, this amazing woman was the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart’s extraordinary accomplishments inspire women around the world to this day. Last weekend, as a tribute to the late Earhart, the modern-day Amelia Earhart completed the journey that the pioneering aviatrix who inspired her name never did, which brought her the status of the youngest woman to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine plane.
On July 2, 1937 just 11,300 km of Pacific Ocean stood between Amelia Earhart and the record for world’s longest round-the-world flight when fearless aviator disappeared. The same year the Works Progress Administration began construction on a bridge, which would later bear Earhart’s 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. Investigators are still searching for definitive evidence but clues suggest the pioneering aviator met a slow death as a castaway. However, Earhart’s 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 at V1 Gallery. The exhibition was originally scheduled to last until 28 June, but due to great interest it is extended till August 9. 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. He has spent the better part of two years researching and producing this new body of work. 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.
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 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.
V1 Gallery is a contemporary art gallery located in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in 2002 by designer Jesper Elg and photographer Peter Funch. V1 Gallery gained international notability by being the first art gallery in Scandinavia to exhibit international street art pioneers such as Banksy, Futura and Shepard Fairey, to name a few.
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