pArthur Bondar, born in Ukraine in 1983, works as a freelance photographer on his personal documentary and art projects. He studied the Photography and Human Rights in New York University and was a participant of the Eddie Adams Workshop and NOOR-Nikon Masterclass. Arthur was awarded and granted with National Geographic Grant (2011), Magnum Emergency Fund (2012), The Documentary Project Fund (2013), and the Best Photographer of the Year in Ukraine (2013). Also he was nominated for the Foam Paul Huf Award and the Prix Pictet Award (2016). His projects were widely exhibited as installations, exhibitions and screenings in different museums and art institutions worldwide. Arthur cooperates with many international magazines, newspapers and online media. His works have been published in Time, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Le Monde, the Times of London, the Wall Street Journal, De Volkskrant, etc. Arthur is the author of four books: Shadows of Wormwood, Signatures of War, Barricade: The Euromaidan Revolt and V.1945.
Shadows of Wormwood
"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." The Holy Bible Rev 8:10-11"
I don't remember exactly the night of disaster on the 26th of April, 1986 because I was three years old but I've been watching the consequences of this tragedy during all my life till nowadays. My first visit to Chernobyl Zone was in April, 2008. From that time Ive understood that the Zone is not the dead place that is just fenced. It is more alive than many people think. Nowadays Ukrainian government has made the hugest tourism machine from Chernobyl Zone. Hunters for scrap-metal usually cooperate with police and security guard that give them access to the Zone for highly polluted metal. They usually come with huge lorries and take all this metal out. At the same time people who have suffered from Chernobyl disaster have no proper financial and medicine service. These facts have really confused me. This year it was the 31th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy. I've been photographing Chernobyl Zone during last eight years. For me Exclusion Zone is a mystery. I want to show the mystical aspects of this land, where every inch is full of suffering and sorrow. Nykolay Yakushyn, who is a priest of Yllynskaya Church, the only working church in Chernobyl, said - "If you don't respect the Zone it'll definitely kill you but if your heart is full of love and sympathy to it and people who suffered and died here, the Zone will not touch you."
A view to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant through power lines. Thirty years ago, a huge amount of the energy that the plant produced went to Kiev and all over Ukraine.
Wild nature immediately takes everything that people have left. Rests of the evacuated house that is overgrow by wild grapes in 30 km Chernobyl zone.
Villagers of the closest village Medvin that is located 150 meters behind the fence of the Zone.
A woman burns dried grass from her garden that is close to the fence of the Chernobyl zone. It is prohibited to make any open fire inside the zone concerning the radioactive elements in the grass and wood. But people who live in the villages close to fence still do it.
Fishing is strictly prohibited in the excluded zone around Chernobyl, but people depend on it to feed their families.
Old boat is close to the port, in the 30 km Exclusion Zone, in the village Teremzy. Before the tragedy a lot of ships from all over Ukraine came here.
A lost ID card of a worker of the Chernobyl Zone that I found in the road in Chernobyl city.
A man feeds the fox inside the ghost town, Pripyat. Because of this area is closed for any human activities population of animals like foxes, rabbits, wolfs, wild boars, deers, etc. increases very fast.
Huge highly polluted fishes are in reservoir of the 4th reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Fishermen heading home after fishing on the frozen river in the village of Straholesie (1,5 kilometers from the Exclusion Zone).
Most of the people who live in the villages around the fence of the exclusion zone are old and do not care about the radiation. It is strictly prohibited for children to live inside the zone.
Most of the people who live in the villages around the zone have many diseases caused by radiation. Most of these people are old that's why the level of mortality is really high. Ulyana Prokopovna was the oldest woman in Straholesie village, near the exclusion zone. She was 96 years old.
A piece of the installation in the museum of the Chernobyl tragedy in Kiev, Ukraine.
Aleksander lived really close to the fence of the Zone in Gornostaypol village. During our last meeting he stood close to the fence and shared the stories going to hunt, fish or pick the mushrooms. He knew every yard here because he worked as a driver liquidator during many years in the Zone. Aleksander died in 2013.
Workers leave the Zone in the bus through Dityatki checkpoint. There a lot of people who still work at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to control and measure the radiation level at the factory and around.