Ghosts and the Longing for Amelia

Matthew Arnold April 25 - May 26

Opening reception April 25, 7 - 9 PM

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happylucky no.1 is proud to present Ghosts and the Longing for Amelia, by Matthew Arnold, an exhibition of photographs and structures surrounding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

Arnold’s previous landscape photography project Topography Is Fate—North African Battlefields of World War II—is the catalyst for this new project. With history still on his mind, Arnold learned of new findings regarding the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. While quite familiar with the story of the famous aviator, he was unaware of the multiple theories surrounding her disappearance. His newfound interest in these theories became a fixation and he began his research in earnest. This research drove him to the Central Pacific where Earhart’s last radio call was heard.

Initial significant struggles and setbacks in accessing such a remote region left Arnold broken. The project evolved from one of only documenting historical landscapes and seascapes to one that speaks to the loss, disappointment, and creative longing of the artist.

The photographs in the exhibition are mysterious. Landscapes of coral atolls, macro images of insect wings, and immense clouds resting above the vast Pacific Ocean warp a viewers sense of perception. The sweeping seascapes contrast macro images of delicate grains of sand and the wings of an insect. Both the massive and minute are immeasurable and confounding. Along with photographs, edited and abstracted depictions of flight paths or search areas are devoid of any useful data. The maps have been inverted—rather than providing answers—they withhold them. These shifts in scale and the redaction of information can feel puzzling, but also captivating. Much like the search for Earhart after she vanished, the world represented by Arnold’s photographs appears as an engrossing conundrum.

The images presented by Arnold convey this individual and collective longing for knowledge and truth. His landscapes and seascapes are completely absent of any living being. His extreme macro images recall a probing magnifying glass. Arnold himself views the search for Amelia as an immense challenge, but ultimately solvable—however—unless an unimpeachable piece of evidence is found, we will all be left to wonder.


 Eighty-two years after Amelia Earhart’s disappearance, only theories remain, yet her legend survives in the many individuals still searching for evidence of what happened to her
on that fateful day in 1937. This search for the truth of her demise and the longing for answers manifests itself in all of us.


Matthew Arnold is an American photographer whose work strives to connect the specificity and significance of history with the topography of the land on which the history is shaped and the experience of the individual on that land. His work has been exhibited and promoted widely across the United States and around the world in galleries and museums. His most recent project was published as a monograph entitled, “Topography Is Fate—North African Battlefields of World War II,” by the German publisher, Kehrer Verlag. Matthew Arnold currently lives and works in New York City.