Hotel Polissia Lightswitch (Pripyat: 21 years after Chernobyl)

Submitted to Nostalgia
Uploaded 3 Nov 2009 — 11 favorites
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© Quintin Lake
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

When reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant exploded in 1986 the result was the worst nuclear accident in history. Large areas of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia were severely contaminated, requiring the evacuation and resettlement of over 336,000 people.

Pripyat, 1km from the reactor, was designed as an exemplar of Soviet planning for the 50,000 people who worked at the power plant. A funfair, with bumper cars and Ferris wheel, was due to open two days after the reactor exploded.

These photographs, inspired by Robert Polidori’s earlier images of Chernobyl, were shot in 2007 over 5 hours, apparently the safe period of exposure. Although a Geiger counter was carried in case of localised high emissions, certain areas of vegetation which attract a higher concentration of radiation were avoided.

The physical devastation stems from looting and gradual building collapse, not from the explosion. Over the last ten years people have intruded regularly into the military exclusion zone, stealing everything from irradiated toilet seats to the marble cladding from hotel walls. Photographs of the town capture a memory of three traumas: the invisible radiation, the visible looting and the gradual collapse of a ghost town.

5 responses

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (3 Nov 2009):

    Beautiful image...art from disaster and decay

  • May Lattanzio

    May Lattanzio gave props (3 Nov 2009):

    We lived in Oregon then - Coos Bay. I pleaded with my know-it-all teenager to stay home. Why, I don't know. Invisible radiation was to pass over us that day. It didn't matter that he stayed in the house. It was such a bizarre feeling. I remember it all day. Inevitability. Despair. Very interesting image - brought me back to that day holed up in the house with nowhere to go to escape. Why bother? I'm sure it is very much more contaminated than you think (I had a geiger counter then, too).

  • victor jackson

    victor jackson said (3 Nov 2009):

    Amazing. I am confused when this picture was taken?

  • Quintin Lake

    Quintin Lake said (4 Nov 2009):

    hi victor, it was taken in 2007

  • peggy gardner

    peggy gardner gave props (5 Nov 2009):

    riveting image.

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