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The Chernobyl of –Gerd Ludwig


To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, an exhibit titled “Der lange Schatten von Tschernobyl /The Long Shadow of Chernobyl” with 56 large prints by Gerd Ludwig will be on display at the Horizonte Fotofestival in Zingst, Germany.

Shortly after midnight on April 26, 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant blew up after operators botched a safety test. Radioactive fallout spread over tens of thousands of square kilometers, driving 350,000 people permanently from their homes. Radioactive remnants continue to smolder inside the concrete and steel encasement hastily erected after the accident.

Gerd Ludwig visited the affected areas in Ukraine and Belarus repeatedly and was able to delve deeper into the contaminated reactor than any other western still photographer. “As we observe the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and in light of the recent catastrophe at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, it is important that we remember that the consequences of nuclear power will affect us and our environment for decades and centuries to come”, he says. This spring, Gerd Ludwig revisited the reactor and the surrounding areas. His return was made possible with the support from sponsors and donations from hundreds of individuals around the world. (La Lettre de la Photographie reported on March 7, 2011)

The photographs in the exhibit range from rarely captured scenes of workers entering the highly contaminated interior of the reactor, to the life of the elderly returnees; from the empty schoolrooms in the ghost town of Pripyat, to the plight of the countless victims in the fallout areas. The exhibit also includes images from the latest developments in the Exclusion Zone – the introduction of government-sanctioned tourism, and the construction of the New Safe Confinement. Jürgen Trittin, former Federal Minister of the Environment, and current leader of the Green Party in Germany, is acting as the patron for the show and will open the exhibit on May 29, 2011.

Gerd Ludwig was born in Alsfeld, Germany, and studied with Professor Steinert at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany, graduating in 1972. Focusing on environmental issues and the socio-economic changes following the dissolution of the Soviet Union has resulted in the exhibition and book, Broken Empire: After the Fall of the USSR, a ten-year retrospective published in 2001. His ongoing coverage of the former Soviet republics has garnered his distinction as being the world’s foremost color photographer documenting the region. He is a member of INSTITUTE for Artist Management

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