The Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986 is one of the most famous and controversial tragedies of our time. It happened at the Lenin Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (which consisted of four reactors) near Pripyat in the Soviet Union. The Chernobyl plant is located only 93 km from Ukraine’s capital Kiev. A one-off test of whether the turbine generator could continue providing electricity after the reactor scrammed caused the tragedy. The resulting explosion and fire at the Chernobyl plant sent a radioactive cloud over a large part of Europe. More than 30 people died and countless others have died from radiation symptoms since. Emergency staff reported traces of pollution in Asia and North America, including Canada (Parliament of Canada 1986; Kerr et al. 1992). In the Soviet Union, the accident affected mostly Ukraine and neighboring Belarus and Russia.
The Ukraine government evacuated some 135,000 people from the area and the 19-mile exclusion zone around the plant will remain uninhabitable for decades.
To commemorate the 30 year anniversary, Australian artist Guido van Helten was invited by ArtUnitedUS Curators (Geo Leros, Iryna Kanishcheva, Waone Interesni Kazki, Ilya Sagaidakchose) to recreate the work of Igor Kostin in the mural in Chernobyl inside reactor 5, which was under construction at the time of the accident.
Igor Kostin was famous for documenting the disaster as it happened in 1986 and spent many years of his life documenting the strenuous clean up activities following the disaster sacrificing his health for this cause and playing a great part in sharing the dangers of nuclear accidents with the world. Igor Kostin passed away in 2015.
Guido van Helten said: “I wanted to create a work that honoured the sacrifice Igor Kostin made in the documentation of this disaster and for the importance of photojournalism as a medium of sharing of information with the world and in this case, showing the extreme dangers Nuclear energy can have.”
Filmmaker Geo Leros from Ukraine documented the creation of the work with a short film which is to be released on the 26th of April to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl Disaster which injured and displaced 100,000’s of people in the years following.
‘This movie is not just about the mural, it’s a story about Igor Kostin, about a journalist who battled everyday to put his life in danger to share with us this information, it’s the story about the strong people who fight with this disaster’ – Geo Leros
Photos by Anton Kuleba
film by Geo Leros