2011 | United States | Experimental


  • 14 mins
  • Director | Diana Thater

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American video artist Diana Thater relentlessly explores the tension between the natural environment and technological culture, the wild and the domestic, science and magic. To create this work, she went inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone to document the return of wildlife in the town deserted by humans. “Chernobyl represents the failure of a massive political system, a way of life, and of science. Yet nature continues to persist. Not because it wants or chooses to, but because it must,” said the artist.

For this work, Thater spent time in the ‘Zone of Alienation’ which surrounds the site of the nuclear disaster, filming the eroded architecture and wildlife of the one-hundred mile wide radioactive territory. The animals she films have managed to survive amid the devastation of the only existing post-human landscape, demonstrating a wilderness of man’s making. The installation focuses on the rare and endangered Przewalski’s Horse. Once facing certain extinction in its native habitat in central Asia, this sub-species of the wild horse now roams freely in the ‘Zone of Alienation’. The desolate remains of an abandoned movie theatre in Prypiat, a city founded to house the Chernobyl nuclear plant workers, will form the backdrop of Thater’s installation. The city’s decomposing architecture will be juxtaposed against the footage of the wild animals living in the ‘Zone of Alienation’. Through this installation, visitors will experience a world where a man-made catastrophe has abruptly halted all progress and animals inhabit an irradiated landscape. Overlaying physical and filmic spaces, Thater confronts the successes of civilisation with its profound failure. For over two decades Thater has explored the precarious relationship between culture and nature. Frequently using animals and natural phenomena as subjects, her video installations are compositions of time and space. Their precisely choreographed imagery forms temporal abstractions that immerse the viewer in ambient environments and invite new ways of seeing the world.


artist Chernobyl environment wildlife science architecture