Diana Thater: Chernobyl
Chernobyl, the latest video installation created by the Californian artist Diana Thater, explores the crumbling architecture and landscape of the ‘Zone of Alienation’ that surrounds the long-abandoned nuclear power plant. Overlapping images create layers of texture: Thater is seen at a distance as she sets up her video camera in the ruins of an old movie theatre that serves as a backdrop; another camera pans along the barrel of an abandoned tank, and later lingers on the rusted remains of a Ferris wheel. A calendar is still tacked to the wall of a crumbling, decayed building. Wildlife has flourished in the radioactive zone, and flocks of birds swim between the autumnal reeds on a lake, while bands of beautiful Przewalski’s horses – once endangered – now roam freely, appearing to wander through both forests and abandoned rooms as the layers of footage merge. The installation immerses the viewer in the grasslands and architectural ruins surrounding Chernobyl, the screens forming a near-enclosed space. Looming shadows are thrown up on screen by the projectors, themselves a fixture of the installation.
It’s only a shame that Chernobyl feels dwarfed by the towering space at Hauser and Wirth’s Piccadilly gallery, and the captivating images so far removed from their original setting.