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UN in Belarus > Topics > Chernobyl > Chernobyl: 20 Years Later
Chernobyl: 20 Years Later
Photo album "Chernobyl"
Dedicated to the 20th Anniversary
26 April will mark the 20the anniversary of the largest techno-genetic catastrophe in the history of mankind – the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The aftermath of this explosion hit Belarus the worst. Unfortunately, by today many have forgotten about this disaster. The world community has no comprehensive photo publication which could provide a many-side reflection of the catastrophe and its ecological, cultural, human and economic consequences.
The art-publicistic album “Chernobyl” prepared for the accident anniversary is aimed at filling in the blank. The album is based on original results of the research conducted by the authors, as well as the most important and interesting information about the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The “Nature” section of the album reflects the nature of the zone abandoned by people, its flora and fauna that happened to be under an unusual experiment. The “People” section narrates about the authenticity of the Zone people culture with its traditions, customs, folklore, hunting arts, as well as construction, weaving, painting and craftsmanship. Description of the accident, its aftermath and retrospection of people’s life on the contaminated territories before and after Chernobyl can be found in the “History” section. The most painful section – “Man” demonstrates people’s sufferings connected with the radiation consequences.
The album goal is not only to make people acquainted with the drama that broke as a result of the peace time largest nuclear explosion, but also to immortalize the human catastrophe at the background of the people culture past and the unique nature. Particular processes and changes happening on these territories today, 20 year later, are reflected simultaneously. The album will become an encyclopedia of the Chernobyl disaster. It will help Belarusians and people of the whole world reopen for themselves the calamity which has been affecting Belarus’ destiny for 20 years already.
The album will be useful for nature environment protection and cultural heritage preservation, help attract foreign assistance necessary for continuing the mitigation of the accident aftermath.
The album itself was prepared within two years. However, the authors had gathered the album materials for much longer.
Igar Byshniou as a scientist-ornithologist conducted his first research of the Palesie radiation ecological preserve nature in 1996. In 2004, he started implementing a film project “The Chernobyl Jungles” by request of the Ministry of Culture of Belarus. Within the last two years, Mr. Byshniou has organized 15 film expeditions to the Zone which resulted in a seven-series documentary “The Chernobyl Jungles. 20 years without a Man” about the preserve nature existence under the increased radiation level and absence of the anthropogenic processes. The 26-minute film was demonstrated at various international film festivals and conferred on with numerous awards. The whole documentary series will soon be released. Simultaneously Mr. Byshniou was photographing and doing research on the Zone fauna and flora.
Anatoly Kleschuk has been working on the Chernobyl theme since the first days of the disaster. The author has decided to concentrate on the problem of health and survival of the Zone children. Kliashchuk’s charitable exhibitions on sick children were organized in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the US, Switzerland… They were opened in the European Parliament in Brussels, at the UN headquarters in New York, the League of Nations Palace in Geneva. This year, a large collection of photos by Kliashchuk will be demonstrated in the Willi-Brandt-Haus Gallery in Berlin. Although 20 years have passed after the disaster, the author continues his chronicle at the children’s health care facilities.
Dzianis Ramaniuk is the concept author, editor, artist and publisher of this album. Long before the explosion he had join his farther (Professor Mihas Ramaniuk) in ethnographical expeditions through the regions reflected in the book. After the catastrophe they jointly, and later he himself organized several dozen expeditions through the contaminated territories. He started working on the book two years ago. Beside his own collection and the materials by the two coauthors, he was engaged in his own research at state and private archives, museum funds. He was searching for photographers who might keep the pictures of the first days of the catastrophe, looking through the Chernobyl settlers’ family albums… About 5000 pictures were collected altogether.
The book ends with symbolic photos of the disaster-age youth. Dzianis Ramaniuk found those who were born on the contaminated territory on that very day. Many of them had to leave the homeland. Today they come here just once a year to visit their ancestors’ graves that remained in the Zone. Each of them has his/her own destiny:
“Who are they, “children of Chernobyl”, those who were born on the day of the explosion? Where are they, how did their life turn out? Maybe, their number is small, and they are scattered around the world? But I tried to find them, and it worked! Long-waited meetings, one, two, three…
I found twelve of those who were born on that terrible day in the area heavily contaminated with radiation. I managed to meet and take pictures of the majority of them. Young and beautiful, they study and serve in the Army, work and relax. Their growing up simultaneously with the process of reduction of the radiation contaminated territory symbolizes the strength of life and hope that some day they will work, construct houses, plant orchids on their homeland (from the editor).
Dzianis Ramaniuk has worked out the concept, artistic design, and edited the text of the sections “People” and “History”. The sections “Nature” and “Man” were written accordingly by Igar Byshniou and Anatoly Kleschuk.
In addition to the pictures by above three authors, several dozen photos by other photographers and archive materials were used ( see photos).
The album has been published on unique large demy printing paper of exceptional polygraphic quality. 256 pages of the album contain 259 artworks. All the texts and inscriptions are written in three languages: Belarusian, English and German.
* The authors apply the word “the Zone” not only to the territories closed for free visiting, but rather to the whole Chernobyl radiation affected area.
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