From the Peaceful Atom to the Soviet Apocalypse - Memorials to the Chornobyl Catastrophe in Ukraine, Russia and other Countries

From the Peaceful Atom to the Soviet Apocalypse - Memorials to the Chornobyl Catastrophe in Ukraine, Russia and other Countries

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Olha Kazakova

Institute of Modernism, Moscow

November 19, 2015

Center for Urban History, Lviv

The Chornobyl tragedy of 26 April 1986 was the worst man-made disaster in human history; it made the world shudder. A few years later, when the Soviet Union began putting up monuments to victims and liquidators, sculptors were faced with a problem - finding a new medium that was capable of reflecting an event, which was previously unknown in its scope and cause: a peaceful atom, transformed by the power of the human mind into a punishing force, and the opposition to the human energy that man himself created, and over which he had lost control. The many proposed sculptures to memorialize this event demonstrated different reactions to overcoming trauma through art. The monuments were erected in many cities of Ukraine, Russia and other former Soviet republics. They are all versions of the artistic response to a unique event, which is comparable to the worst human tragedies of the twentieth century.