Shadows of Wormwood

Shortlist 2017

Arthur Bondar

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.
The Problem

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."