ANAÏS TONDEUR – CHERNOBYL HERBARIUM

Guest curators selection: Robertina Šebjanič and Alenka Trebušak

A series of photos in the making

The series represents plants from the Chernobyl exclusion zone. It is being created with the help of Martin Hajduch’s groups. He is an analyst of the consequences on the flora caused by the  radiation, caused by the nuclear reactor blast on 26th of April 1986. It is composed of 34 works; with one being made each year since the accident. They’re made with the photogram technique, by directly pressing a sample of the radioactive herbarium on a photosensitive surface. 

The objectivity of the motif and the illustration of mood are inextricably linked in the series, as the artist doesn’t stop at only the physical emergence of the plants; that are – as is typical for organised collections of such samples – annotated with proper names, locations of the taken samples and also the level of radiation data received from the isotopes of cesium-137 and strontium-90 mixed with soil from the exclusion zone; but also with the motif, marked by the dynamic play of light and shadow – betrayed with its own evocative charge at a glance.  The gaze of the viewer is on one hand captured in the light trap, a glow of sorts, which is mirroring the effect of exposure to extreme light; and on the other hand a slow disappearance and the drowning of parts of the plant into melancholic brownness of the background, alluding the fragility of its existence.