‘An informational catastrophe.’ 100 Ukrainian artists respond to the Chernobyl disaster with VR

‘An informational catastrophe.’ 100 Ukrainian artists respond to the Chernobyl disaster with VR

20 October 2020

The first ever digital exhibition dedicated to the Chernobyl disaster brings together new media and VR artworks created by 100 Ukrainian artists.

ARTEFACT: CHOrnobyl runs as part of Spain’s Contemporary Festival of New Media Arts & Advanced Audio Visual Technologies (MADATAC).

Of the 50 artworks on display, one standout project is Olesya Gerashchenko’s Verity: a virtual archive of the Soviet newspaper, Pravda. Gerashchenko digitised 12 issues of the newspaper from 1986. Remarkably, the archive reveals that the first mention of the Chernobyl explosion appears on the 12th day after the nuclear accident in a noticeably short article. In the words of the artist, reading newspapers under a totalitarian regime was “an openly schizophrenic experience” and she believes that it was precisely “such blatant disregard for the truth” that led to the USSR’s fall.

Oleg Kharch’s Fakemet, on the other hand, addresses the misinformation of our time. Presented as a video testimonial on the nuclear disaster, it features a man dressed in the uniform of a Soviet soldier who shares a personal story on his supposed involvement in the effort to help reduce the impact of the 1986 nuclear explosion, only to reveal at the end of his testimonial that he is lying. With a smile, he says, “This was my Chernobyl 33 years ago. This is fake.”

The Ukrainian art initiative ARTEFACT argue that the Chernobyl nuclear explosion was not just a humanitarian crisis but also a crisis of misinformation. “The accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is an example of how the informational catastrophe within one state can have consequences for the whole world,” they say.

See the exhibition until 6 November here.

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