Gaelle Beri is a photographer currently living in London, UK. She studied Photography and Urban Cultures at Goldsmiths College with emphasis on the notion of belonging to a city or community through the lens. After her studies, her love for music brought her to work on her music photography portfolio. The recent nuclear disaster in Japan made her want to go back to more serious matters and travel to Ukraine to document another community affected by a nuclear disaster 26 years ago.
Shortly after the Japan nuclear disaster, I was astonished to see how fast people were cleaning the area in the hope of moving back to their cities as soon as possible. I was eager to study another community, which was affected by the same kind of issues 26 years ago. I’ve traveled to Prypiat, in Ukraine. A city entirely built for people working in the Chernobyl power plant. Chernobyl explosion contaminated Ukraine, Belorussia and Russia – a surface as big as the State of New York and changed the history of cities, which became impossible to inhabit.
Most cities in the restriction zone are empty, however 6 people have resettled in a nearby village and around 4 000 people lives in Chernobyl city. Most of them also work on the power plant site. By photographing buildings and sites around Prypiat, I have tried to understand the everyday life of workers and re-settlers and this sense of belonging that they all share for a deserted city. I have also visited a couple of resettlers… Chernobyl remains the biggest nuclear disaster.