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Visa pour l’image 2016 : Niels Ackermann, The Children of Chernobyl Have Grown Up


In April 2016, the world will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Instead of going back once more to the overly documented consequences of the accident I chose to look toward the future. During three years, I photographed the youth of Slavutych: Ukraine’s youngest city. The town that was born from the catastrophe.

The story documents the life of Yulia: a teenager I saw becoming  a young adult in front of my camera. As time passed by Yulia changed her occupations. From parties, drinks and short relationships to a married life with a job and serious responsibilities. She and her friends let me photograph them along this very crucial phase of their life: the moment when we decide what we want to do of our life, where and with whom. A metamorphosis her own country is also going through, freeing itself in blood and pain from it’s neighbor Russia. Youngsters of Slavutych as well as of Ukraine are now fixing their parents mistakes and building a serene and prosperous future despite a difficult context.

Built in the middle of a forest 40km away from the destroyed nuclear power plant, Slavutych was supposed to be one of the latest demonstrations of Soviet greatness. Since the year 2000 when Chernobyl stopped producing electricity therefore worsening the economic prospects of that strategic city. It now relies nearly exclusively on the construction of the new sarcophagus that will end in 2017. No clear plan seems ready yet to give the city a future.

Visa pour l’image 2016
Niels Ackermann
Winner of the Ville de Perpignan Rémi Ochlik Award – 2016
The Children of Chernobyl Have Grown Up
From August 27 to September 11th, 2016

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