The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has been devoid of human habitation for over three decades. Radiation from the 1986 nuclear accident continues to saturate the borderlands of Ukraine and Belarus, rendering thousands of square miles effectively nature preserves. The landscape has been immortalized through countless photographic projects and television series, capturing a post-human ecosystem of abandoned tower blocks and industrial facilities. Artist Alice Miceli's Projeto Chernobyl, on display at the Americas Society and curated by Gabriela Rangel and Diana Flatto, stands out from the standard documentation approach with a series of 30 radiographic negatives that map gamma-ray exposure across multiple sites within the exclusion zone. Projeto Chernobyl began in 2006 and concluded in 2010. The location of the 12-by-16-inch radiographs was determined by extensive mapping conducting by Miceli and her team, as the sheets were placed in differing proximities to the failed Reactor No. 4 and exposed for two to eight months. Each, accordingly, was subject to a unique degree of radioactive exposure. The result is a series of haunting abstracts of manmade catastrophe and a post-human landscape. Considering the distinct approach to the project and the particularities of the location, it is no surprise that Miceli depended on a unique photographic technique. The initial choice was a pinhole-like device; inside of a lead-covered steel box, there would have been a smaller two-inch by two-inch lead square with a minuscule pinhole to expose the radiographic film. Although this process succeeded in a lab-controlled environment in Rio de Janeiro, it failed within the full-scale contamination of the Exclusion zone. The second approach, what was ultimately used for the project, involved placing the autoradiographic film directly onto radioactive matter, such as open fields, walls, windows, and trees. "An autoradiograph, or autoradiogram, is an image imprinted on to a radiographic film that is produced by the decay emissions (the gamma rays) from radioactive matter," said Miceli. "The radiographic film is placed in juxtaposition to, or in direct contact with, the contaminated matter, which in this case has become a radioactive source (like most if not all contaminated matter in the Zone), thus producing life-size images of the invisible contamination." The primary exhibition space has been designed as a void; Near pitch-black and accessed through a pair of blackout curtains. The 30 radiograph negatives are mounted on five walls and backlit by LED screens and are the only form of illumination within the room. Each of the negatives has a distinct mix of markings which provide broad contours of the subject matter, and their geography of radiation contamination. Natural phenomena such as rainfall and wear and tear resulted in further representational erratic, lending a watercolor-like effect or abrasions to individual negatives. The exhibition also includes a brief introduction to Miceli's larger body of work, including In Depth, a photographic series of active minefields in Bosnia, Angola, Cambodia, and Colombia. Black-and-white film photography covering her travels from Germany to the Exclusion Zone is an additional supplement to contextualize the exhibition. Projeto Chernobyl Americas Society 680 Park Avenue New York, New York Through January 25, 2020
Posts tagged with "Chernobyl":
The historic sarcophagus at Chernobyl is slated to be partially dismantled to make way for a safer structure very soon. The Ukranian company that manages the formerly-radioactive site—home of the world’s most famous nuclear disaster—is taking it down preemptively before the 30-year-old structure falls. According to Popular Mechanics, the concrete-and-steel, half-domed architecture, also known as the Shelter, was built in just 206 days after the 1986 explosion in Soviet-era Ukraine. As the Russian-occupied state was trying to sort through the mess, the government hired “liquidators,” or clean up agents, to construct the sarcophagus atop the deadly site. Though many died because of the work, it successfully kept radioactive chemicals such as corium, uranium, and plutonium from exposing the surrounding city—and the world—all these years.
Despite its remarkably quick construction and decades of decent performance, the sarcophagus was actually built quite poorly, without any welded or bolted joints due to the inexperience of the workers. It became clear that after just over a decade, the sarcophagus would need to be replaced. Popular Mechanics noted how in a 2017 interview with BBC, an expert on nuclear safety recounted that the Soviets lowered the beams for the building and built the roof structure using helicopters. Nothing was made to be very sturdy. The SSE Chernobyl NPP, which oversees the site today, said it will start taking the insecure architecture apart after the New Shelter Containment (NCS), a building plan that was pieced together two decades ago, is up and running. The build-out of the NCS is currently in progress by a French consortium of construction groups called Novarka and, according to World Nuclear News, it’s the “largest moveable land-based structure ever built.” BBC identified the “vast new tomb for dangerous waste” as larger than Wembly Stadium and taller than the Statue of Liberty. The NCS is expected to make the site safe for up to 100 years and will help it withstand dangerously high temperatures, a class-three tornado, and a 6.0 earthquake—all things that the sarcophagus is prone to crumbling because of now. Officials are also testing the equipment and technological systems used on the NCS ahead of its soon-to-be full operation.
Holding it all in: Containing radioactivity at Chernobyl https://t.co/YwBRvdS1a8— Chernobyl Gallery (@ChernobylG) June 21, 2019
Attention ruin porn addicts and post-apocalyptic disaster fantasists, this video is for you. British filmmaker Danny Cooke visited Pripyat, Ukraine—an abandoned city within the radioactive hot zone created by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster—while on assignment for 60 Minutes. Using a camera-equipped drone, Cooke soars above and through the city, which once housed 50,000 inhabitants, revealing a ghostly but remarkably intact landscape, including apartment buildings, hospitals, and an abandoned amusement park with a rusting ferris wheel. While the scene is remarkably tranquil, the underlying cause is unsettling. Following a manmade calamity, nature is slowly reclaiming the city. Humans will likely never be able to return. [h/t World.Mic]
Chernobyl David Zwirner Gallery 519 West 19th Street New York City Through December 22 Diana Thater’s video installation, Chernobyl, captures the effects manmade disasters have on the natural environment. Situating her work on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear explosion in the Ukraine, which left a no-man’s land with the sudden evacuation of over 100,000 people, Thater highlights the possibilities nature has to rebuild itself when the ruins of industrial infrastructure are left to decay. She focuses on Prypiat, a city that was built to house nuclear plant workers, and the city’s wildlife, specifically the Przewlski’s Horse species that were released post-disaster and left free from human contact. Her work, both beautiful and startling, forces us to consider how we perceive images and their potential to dictate how we see our world.