This body of work taken in and around the Dead Zone in Chernobyl Ukraine in late 2010. It seeks to make the “invisible” social and psychological consequences of radiation “visible” .
The Dead Zone is a 30 kilometre alienation zone located in beautiful woodland in the Polessia region of Ukraine. It was established shortly after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in order to evacuate the local population. Now, the city of Pripyat and its surrounding villages are empty, isolated post-apocalyptic visions of abandoned buildings and overgrown wildlife. Crumbling houses, churches and schools still contain the remnants of peoples lives – teddy bears, wedding photos, clothes, shoes, religious icons, and soviet-era school books frozen in time.
Thousands of (mainly elderly residents) refused to be evacuated from the Zone or illegally returned there later, known as “self settlers” or “samosely”. They began growing vegetables and raising livestock again, despite the contamination. This population has dwindled over time and at the time these photographs were taken only 2 remaining residents were found still living in an evacuated village inside the Zone. One of these residents is “Zena”, who lives alone, and is deaf and mute.
In villages on the outskirts of the Zone, people appear resigned to, or are in denial about, the radiation. Children play in abandoned houses, while parents and teenagers numb the sense of isolation, despair and hopelessness with bottles of vodka.
26 April 2011 will mark 25 years since the disaster.
Official Opening Event on Wednesday 18 May, 6-8pm
Drinks with the Artists on Saturday 28 May, 2-4pm
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