From June 28 to September 9, the photography exhibition “Chernobyl 36+” by João Sarmento will be on display at the Casa do Conhecimento de Vila Verde.
“Chernobyl 36+” is an exhibition of 76 photographs taken exactly 30 years after the biggest nuclear accident in history, which occurred in the nuclear plant of Chernobyl, now Ukraine.
The photographs depict mainly the ruins of Pripyat, the town built to house the plant’s workers, whose population was once close to 50,000. After the nuclear accident, it was evacuated and abandoned. The accident eventually led to creating an Exclusion Zone with an area of 2,600km2, slightly larger than the Vale do Cávado and Vale do Ave regions combined!
The photographs in this exhibition were taken on April 30 2016, over about 4 hours. They portray the radioactive landscapes of a city that no longer stands, where time is apparently still: public spaces, streets and avenues, monuments, sports facilities such as the stadium, the swimming pool and the gymnasium, the amusement park with the bumper cars and the Big wheel, kindergartens and schools, important buildings such as the hotel, the restaurant, the supermarket, or the café, and their surroundings. Many materials have already been stirred and rummaged through by urban and ruin “explorers”, and books and soft toys, various fragments, and objects have been deliberately arranged for the visitor’s, the tourist’s, and the photographer’s gaze, preparing, constructing and influencing aesthetics and perspectives.
The photographs awaken today’s new understandings of this ruin and may lead to a reflection, from different perspectives, on the role of nuclear plants and infrastructures that house radioactive materials in war contexts.
The exhibition includes a collection of maps taking the visitor on a journey through cartographies of the Soviet Empire, its disintegration, Ukraine and the territory of Chernobyl.