Institut Français Napoli
36 years after the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power station, first most dramatic technological catastrophe in human history, what of this event remains today?
Since 2016, the environmental philosopher Michael Marder, himself an indirect victim of radiation, and the visual artist Anaïs Tondeur quest to reflect upon, signify and symbolize the event of Chernobyl, the trauma of which has still not been properly worked through.
They choose to convoke, as silent witnesses of this tragedy, the irradiated plants growing in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a no man’s land of thirty kilometres around the devasted nuclear plant, one of the most radioactive places on earth. The direct imprints of plant bodies captured in Anaïs Tondeur’s rayograms are the visible records of an invisible calamity.
Reflecting on the soils, on plants and on our relations to them in Chernobyl today, in a world increasingly plagued by geopolitical wars, energy, food and economic crises, is to cultivate a thinking that undermines anthropocentric dominance. According to Marder and Tondeur, it calls for cultivating another way of living, more attune with the earth.
Can plants show us the way then?