“Ever since the first atomic bomb was dropped, humanity has been obsessed with the idea of the nuclear apocalypse. That nightmare almost came true in 1986, when an accident at the USSR’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant triggered the world’s worst radiological crisis.“This is how it is presented. ‘Chernobyl: A Stalkers’ Guide‘, a photobook by the British writer and photographer Darmon richter where it shows us the reality of today’s Chernobyl.
And it is that, continues, “the events of that night are well documented, but the story didn’t stop there. Chernobyl, as a place, is still very much alive today. “ However, “As thousands of foreign visitors congregate around a handful of selected sites, beyond the tourist spots lies a wild and mysterious land the size of a small country. In the Chernobyl forests, historic village settlements and Soviet-era utopianism have been abandoned since the time of the disaster.“.
And all this is shown by Darmon through his photographs, taken in numerous visits to the exclusion zone that he carried out over seven years, including places that tourists do not go and forbidden places. And he tells us about it, including in his story the experiences of engineers, scientists, policemen and people evacuated from the area who know what happened there and how it is currently.
The result is a book that is now available and that promises “venture deeper than any other previously published account“on the subject, including photographs like the ones you are seeing that certainly attract attention. And they do it because go beyond typical tabloid images of gas masks, abandoned toy dolls, and the everlasting Ferris wheel of Pripyat that we have all seen thousands of times since tourism began to massify the area.
His photos show scenes manipulated by the tourists themselves (such as the ‘still life’ that you have seen on the cover) and very little frequented places, evacuated regions of Ukraine and Belarus in which there are Forgotten ghost towns and Soviet monuments lost deep inside of forests contaminated by radiation.
Interestingly, Darmon Richter confesses that “had no interest in photography before 2011 and started taking pictures only “refresh your own memory“What he did have was”a particular fascination for ideological architecture“Obviously the two have a lot in common, so they soon merged and the author got hooked on this art, bought his first “serious camera” and turned to it, making his photos appear in such prestigious media as The Guardian, BBC, The Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Post.
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Cover photo | ‘Kindergarten No.7’ Zolotoy Klyuchik ‘(‘ Golden Key ‘), Pripyat. Discarded artefacts are arranged into unlikely dioramas by visitors
Photographs by Darmon Richter reproduced with permission of the author for this article