Anaïs Tondeur

Chernobyl Herbarium, 2011–ongoing
Dibond-mounted rayogram prints

These ghostly-looking photogenic imprints of plants are part of an anthropogenic herbarium for our time. Each year, the artist produces a new print to commemorate the reactor explosion that, in April 1986, destroyed the Chernobyl (Ukraine) nuclear power station. The images are direct imprints on photosensitive paper of radioactive plant specimens collected within the 30-kilometer exclusion zone around the former nuclear facility. Unlike traditional natural history herbaria, which aimed to preserve the aesthetic appearance of plants for taxonomical purposes, Tondeur’s images expose conflicted economies of the sublime through which loss and trauma of colossal magnitude can be renegotiated. Chernobyl Herbarium is a reminder of the planetary cost of technological advancements that pose serious threats to our safety and that of the planet.

Courtesy of the artist.