This year’s Festival La Gacilly-Baden Photo in Austria features two exhibits by photographer Gerd Ludwig, titled, “The Long Shadow of Chernobyl” and “Moscow – Winds of Change.” Beginning his career in Germany, Ludwig, who now resides in Los Angeles, is a documentary photographer focusing on environmental issues and the former Soviet Union. Both themes converge in his decades-long documents of the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, ranging from images within the dilapidated, highly contaminated Reactor (having ventured deeper into the reactor than any Western still photographer), to disturbing images of abandoned dolls and gas masks, rearranged by tourists visiting the Exclusion Zone. His second exhibit highlights his expansive 30-year coverage of the rapidly evolving metropolis of Moscow. Ludwig’s portrayal of the former Soviet Union is deeply rooted in his upbringing in post-World War II Germany. As a young refugee child, in the darkness of a cramped space that served as a kitchen, bedroom and living room in one, he listened to the sad and soothing voice of his father, a German soldier who survived Stalingrad. The perceived bedtime stories recalling...
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