“畸形 辐射 污染 死亡
The water that has accumulated over the years has formed a barrier lake. The tower crane has snapped in the middle due to corrosion and has fallen into the water.
Inside Unit Five, everything has stopped at the point of construction. The track has been completed but the equipment has not been set up. Through a large hole in the wall the sun shines, illuminating the interior.
An unfinished cooling tower near the cooling pool. Looking up from the interior of the building, the sky is shrunk into a circle like the top of a well, diffusing the sunlight.
The cement columns in cooling tower look like gravestones.
A closer view of The Eye of Moscow. Developed by the Soviet Union to be the world’s most advanced weapon system, at that time, shortwave radio bands all over the world could hear it while it was operating. It was nicknamed the “Russian Woodpecker”.
From the top of the highest building in Pripyat, we could get the full effect of the vegetation that has overgrown the city over the past thirty-one years. It is now beginning to mask the buildings, swallowing up all traces of human activity. More than 50,000 people lived in Pripyat, and the city was built by the Soviet Union for the resettlement of employees at Chernobyl and their families. After the accident, Pripyat was abandoned and the government build a new city, Slavutych, to replace it. This residential building was an up-market apartment block at the time, equipped with two elevators, which was very rare in that period.
Pripyat River runs through the Chernobyl area, and is only one levee away from the cooling lake. As a tributary of Europe’s major river, the Dnieper, Pripyat River was the main access for water transportation. Nowadays, the abandoned wharf is corroded and has collapsed into the river.
Inside the sanctuary of the urban explorer. They spent the night here inside the abandoned bus, exchanged some necessities and left a few words in the exploration log on the bus. After the nuclear disaster, the government set up a five-kilometre isolation zone, later increased to ten kilometres and guarded by armed soldiers. Ordinary citizens are restricted to specific areas, but there are still some adventurers who find their way inside the restricted zone.
Inside the bus. There is some sugar left by last explorer on the table. The mottled interior shows that the paint has fallen off, and some of the wooden floors have rotted, although it was cleaner than we expected it to be.
Lenin Square in Pripyat. The square was originally designed as a public place for leisure and entertainment for the city’s residents. The city was initially divided into five districts, although three further zones were planned at the time of the disaster. As we followed the guide we heard him say “Now we are entering District Two” or “This is District Four, the residential district”. I had the illusion that I was in The Hunger Games.
The swimming pool. As the leakage was happening, the Soviet Union sent large numbers of soldiers into the radiation zone to perform an emergency risk assessment in three shifts. The pool was the place where the soldiers washed themselves and their protective clothing in order to wash out any radiation dust on the surface. It was also the only place for them to enjoy their leisure time.
The basketball court in the stadium. The wooden floor has rotted into mud, so we had to walk very carefully.
The waiting hall at Pripyat hospital. As a place where radiation injuries were received, Pripyat hospital was exposed to radiation pollution just under Unit Four. There is still excess radiation in the basement, because the hospital stored contaminated radiation suits, even as the radiation spread. The plants on the left refer to the exhibition name “Wildgrass”, and the waiting seat opposite the window looks like it is waiting for new life.
An cot in the children’s ward. This ward is located on the sunny side of the building with warm light and effective isolation. It is obvious that the neonatal ward was a special place for new life, but now it lies abandoned like the rest of the city.
In the classroom, the desks are neatly lined up, and the textbooks and stationery are still on the desktops, as if the students will come to school next day.
老奶奶的名字是Galina Yavchenko，相熟的人也称她为Baba Galya（Galya奶奶）。她在灾难发生后的一年回到由祖父开垦的故土生活，最终政府也没有驱赶她。
On our second day in Chernobyl, we went to see an 80-year-old lady. She speaks only Ukrainian, so we needed the guide to translate her words for us.
As soon as I entered the yard I could feel the traces of life: the yard was well organized and the house was not badly damaged. The house had no electric lighting, and the old lady was wearing traditional dress with blue flowers. She was sitting on her bed, and seemed very happy to receive some guests, but was sorry about she found it difficult to come out and welcome us.
Her name was Galina Yavchenko, but her friends called her Baba Galya. One year after the disaster, she returned to her native land that had been reclaimed by her grandfather, and the government chose not to deport her. Now she lives only on pensions given by the government. A gardener helps her collect her money every month, and also helps her to buy a few essentials. Her pension is her only income, and she makes bread herself.
When we mentioned a Soviet uniform that we saw in the room, a great sense of sorrow entered Baba Galya’s eyes. She said it was her son’s uniform. Before the disintegration of the Soviet Union, her son had lived in Belorussia, which was only one hour's drive away. But after the fall of communism, the Soviet Union was divided into many countries. Belorussia is in Belarus, which was previously just an hour’s drive away, but now her son’s journey takes a whole day, because he needs to passing through many different checkpoints. This uniform is left here to avoid unnecessary trouble.
Shortly after we arrived, an electrician came in. Galya said her house had had no electricity for two days, and she had to ask the gardener to call an electrician. The power system was fragile and breaks down very often. The electrician told Galya that the circuit had been repaired. But when the guide asks if it will work, the electrician replied, “I hope so.” However, the electricity still not come on by the time we left.
We brought some snacks and necessities to Baba Galya, and before I left I asked her if I could take a picture. She was happy for me to do that. Considering her legs, I let her stay on the bed against the background of a piece of tapestry-work with very local characteristics. It was extremely dark in the room. I had to use a big aperture and a flashlight on my mobile phone to take this image successfully.
We showed much respect to Galya for inviting us into her home. My attention was drawn by a wall full of photographs. I felt as if I could see her life on this wall. Here were images of her at a young age; a lover, child and grandchild. A calendar in the upper right corner had been torn to reveal today’s date.
Galya’s table, clean and ordered.
The outside of Galya’s house. I asked what would she would have done if we had not come today, and she said “maybe wash the curtains in the garden”.
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我们坚信，art for everyone