A Requiem of a Special Kind
May 22, 2006 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Radiating Places. Twenty years after the Chernobyl disaster, seven artists from Moscow, Minsk, and Berlin travelled to the desolate, restricted area to commemorate the catastrophe.
posted by Gamblor (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Shadow kids are freaky...
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 9:01 AM on May 22, 2006

This is pretty sweet.
posted by cellphone at 9:06 AM on May 22, 2006

How safe is it to be walking around in Chernobyl nowadays?
posted by cellphone at 9:11 AM on May 22, 2006

"Cool"... graffiti.
posted by Witty at 9:39 AM on May 22, 2006

Gamblor, thanks for the FP. Just the other day I was talking with a friend about Chernobyl, that strangely enough previously endangered species found the area a haven and old folks had returned to their homes. I wondered about the mutation issue. I'm still moved by Elena's motorcycle tour of Chernobyl and found just now she has updated her info.
posted by nickyskye at 10:04 AM on May 22, 2006

I have to say, I sort of question the activity... going to the site and spraypainting the walls with anguished faces is a little odd; the whole town of Pripyat is already filled with them.

It just doesn't feel right to me. It seems like it could have been done differently. It's good to see a different approach than the 'ordinary' go-to-Chernobyl-and-take-pictures strategy... but...

One thing that can really make a project like this hit home is a personal connection-for example, if one of the artists was there or had family. Imagine if they had painted family portraits on the walls of their parent's abandoned homes... But no such connection is mentioned or implied. That makes it feel almost a little like tourism, like an outside perspective being inflicted/imposed on the space, on the people who experienced it.

In any case I'm uncomfortable with it.
posted by fake at 10:07 AM on May 22, 2006

posted by Witty at 10:13 AM on May 22, 2006

How safe is it to be walking around in Chernobyl nowadays?

Not too* dangerous I'd say. This [pdf] UNDP report suggests the annual dose is between 5 and 10 milliSeverts/year in the 30km exclusion zone. This is greater than the near-universal 1mSv/year limit for the public, but less than the 20mSv/year dose limit for "Nuclear Energy Workers" and airline pilots (high altitude = cosmic rays) in Canada. In fact, the remaining three Chernobyl reactors operated for five years after the destruction of unit 3.

*The radioactive contamination has apparantly sunk beneath the earth for the most part. The biggest risk comes from turning up contaminated soil, or ingesting contaminated food or water. That's why you wouldn't want to live there. Then again, hundreds have chosen to anyway.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:35 AM on May 22, 2006

It doesn't feel right to me either. It seems kind of opportunistic and self-aggrandizing, like staging performance art in the ruins of a concentration camp. Art isn't always the best way to articulate horror and tragedy.
posted by slatternus at 12:01 PM on May 22, 2006

I agree that this is the wrong response. Pripyat speaks for itself, and should be left alone.
posted by pieisexactlythree at 1:50 PM on May 22, 2006

If you disagree with the art, many artists would argue that they have done their job effectively as a result.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:15 PM on May 22, 2006

Effigy, that doesn't even make sense. What the fuck are you talking about?
posted by pieisexactlythree at 2:31 PM on May 22, 2006

Yeah, I didn't really feel that the graffiti did much as a memorial of the Pripyat residents and of the Chernobyl disaster. The stark empty decaying city, particularly with the sarcophagous looming in the background, was much more beautiful and terrifying. While much of the graffiti was competently done, the faces didn't seem to do much to communicate beauty or terror - the expressions looked somewhat forced and fake.

[I don't really feel that they needed to evoke Hiroshima - wasn't the Chernobyl disaster horrifying enough on its own? And aren't there important differences between the import of the two events?]
posted by ubersturm at 3:26 PM on May 22, 2006

While I'm sure it pisses people off and isn't exactly respectful so to speak, there's something with a base feeling of just being terribly interesting about the idea of running around a dead city and drawing shit on the walls.
posted by cellphone at 3:26 PM on May 22, 2006

If you disagree with the art, many artists would argue that they have done their job effectively as a result

Yes, I'm sure they would argue that. But they'd be wrong.
posted by slatternus at 12:40 AM on May 23, 2006

I think one way to look at these works is not as intended to memorialize the disaster or its victims, but rather to represent precisely those returns to Chernobyl nickskye describes above. These images are indices of a human presence returning to the area, and there is perhaps something triumphant about that.
posted by jrb223 at 7:28 AM on May 23, 2006

What I'm saying is that many artists believe that the best kind of art is the kind that challenges the viewer. If it angers you or upsets you or challenges you at all, many artists would argue that the art and the artist have done their job.

Maybe they'd be wrong. Or very, very right. The artist, however, would argue that that is up to the viewer to decide.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:09 PM on May 23, 2006

« Older Catholics are the New York Yankees of Christianity...   |   Henry Wessel : photography Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments