Entry Title: "Topography Is Fate—North African Battlefields of WWII"
Name: Matthew Arnold , United States
Category and Expertise: Fine Art|War/Conflict|Landscape, Professional


Entry Description: "Topography Is Fate—North African Battlefields of WWII," recently published as a monograph by the publisher, Kehrer Verlag, considers the varied landscapes of North Africa that the soldier of WWII 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. The approach is conceptual, with the photographs of the North African battlefields presented, similar to the “New Topographic” photographers of previous generations, in an almost anonymous and neutral tone of voice. The images are taken in daylight, without complexity and noise, portraying a peaceful quietness of the desert and grassland to allow viewers to fill in that negative space with their own visualization of the war.

About the Artist:

Matthew Arnold is a photographer and art director living in New York City. He graduated from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he studied photography and offset lithography. He also studied photography at The West Surrey College of Art and Design outside London. Immediately after college he taught offset lithography and digital imaging as an adjunct professor at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Matthew’s photographic work explores our personal, historical and cultural relationship to this increasingly small and complex world. Two past examples include documenting the culture of the traveler in today’s society and how it defines one’s home culture—the other, capturing one’s internal longing to create a solitary personal space—either within or apart from the larger community. These themes may seem contradictory but they speak to an over arching theme of the individual and how one relates to the abstruse world in which we live. His most recent project, “Topography is Fate — North African Battlefields of World War II” — to be published as a monograph in the Fall, by the German publisher, Kehrer Verlag — considers the varied landscapes of North Africa that the Allied 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. The approach is conceptual, with the photographs of the North African battlefields presented, similar to the "New Topographic" photographers of previous generations, in an almost anonymous and neutral tone of voice. The images are taken in daylight, without complexity and noise, portraying a peaceful quietness of the desert or grassland to allow viewers to fill in that negative space with their own visualization of the war. His most recent honors include winning the 2013 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Traveling Fellowship and he will be a Visiting Lecturer at the Columbia University School of the Arts in New York for his project, "Topography Is Fate—North African Battlefields of World War II" and has been included in multiple shows around the country over the past year. Last year and the year before he installed a large body of work as a permanent collection in the Presidential Suite and Grand Ballroom of The Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. Next year he will begin a new photographic landscape project documenting the distant and almost mythical islands surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart during her heroic but ill-fated attempt to be the first person to circumnavigate the globe in 1937.