PRAGUE- The Long Shadow of Chernobyl exhibition displays the aftermath of abnormal radioactive life. It is Gerd Ludwig’s 20-year-long project of pursuing one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

Ever walk into a room that feels like life is being sucked out of it? As if a black hole is passing by to engulf all life and colors? The Long Shadow of Chernobyl exhibition is that room. The first feeling you get after buying the ticket and opening the exhibition door is a lonely, cold, and empty feeling. This creeps up on you more and more with each photograph you look at.

In these rooms you will only find photographs of the aftermath of a nuclear catastrophe hanging on walls with peeled-off paint. The images on display generate the feeling of your heart being held tighter and tighter. You will feel sad, angry and in a twisted way, happy. When you look at a picture of a smiling child suffering from a defective gene and seemingly completely unaware of his parent’s abandonment, you feel happy or even hopeful. This is one of the things the black hole is not able to take away.

Gerd Ludwig photography, The Nuclear Power Plant

One of the photographs that stands out most is one of hundreds of baby dolls wearing gas masks. The dolls are staged on some abandoned broken cribs. The obvious description of this picture can be: extremely creepy. But, it expresses so many stories and sorrows of its people. Simply, it shows how the future, past and present are over for all kinds of beings in the disaster zone, even if some of them are still barely breathing. It just makes you better understand how many infants and kids have died, how many families were fragmented, and how many babies were born with a genetic disorder and were sometimes even abandoned by their families.

Gerd Ludwig photography, The Abandoned City of Pripyat

The venue of the exhibition cannot be a better fit for the theme of the photographs. It is an old and empty basement with multiple rooms with peeled off grey walls. The lighting is generally dimmed, with just enough light shed on each photograph. The venue and the display transfers the  closest feeling of a being in a ghost town. Just as if you are walking through one of the ghosted houses of the Chernobyl disaster zone looking at family pictures inside an abandoned house. Also, there is a small old television in the corner of the entrance that plays a video giving very insightful information to the audience about the disaster.

Gerd Ludwig photography, Exclusion Zone

The exhibition is showing one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters until this date. The explosion in the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, Ukraine. The series of photographs that’s on display captured the essence of the catastrophe and the aftermath of the disaster zone. The photographs show the true meaning of the complexities that life is offering to any kind of living being that is still living or used to live in that zone. Photographs of the ghost town Pripyat show the empty houses that were evacuated in a rush more than 30 years ago. It also shows the heartbreaking situations where children were born with severe birth defects. Images of people suffering from thyroid cancer. Meanwhile, the photographer Gerd  Ludwig focuses on the power of resistance by the elders of Pripyat who went back to the severely radioactive zone of Pripyat and adapted to life there. “Preferring to die on their own contaminated soil rather than a broken heart in the city suburbs,” said Ludwig in a demonstration video that was playing at the venue.

Gerd Ludwig photography, The Abandoned City of Pripyat

The Long Shadow of Chernobyl exhibition by German documentary photographer Gerd Ludwig was exhibited at the Zahradnik Gallery in Prague, Czechia. Gerd first went to Chernobyl in 1993 on assignment for National Geographic Magazine. This, later on, turned out to become a personal project that lasted 20 long years, where he visited the disaster zone many times and was the only photographer to get this close to the contaminated power plant #4.

Gerd Ludwig photography, Chernobyl Victims

The exhibition is overwhelming. But, it’s definitely informative and beautiful. It was successful in transferring facts and emotions. The exhibition was well curated down to the chosen venue that transports you to one of the houses in the disaster zone in a way that gives an inner perspective of the Chernobyl disaster which makes the experience more real and authentic.