The Most Dangerous Film in the World (Reprint)

Materialities. Ed. Gutfranski, Krzysztof. Gdańsk: Wyspa Progress Foundation / Wyspa Institute of Art from Gdańsk, 2013.

Originally printed in Tickle Your Catastrophe. Eds. Roy, Frederik Le, Nele Wynants and Robrecht Vanderbeeken Dominiek Hoens. Ghent: Ghent University, the KASK (Ghent Royal Academy of Fine Arts) and Vooruit, 2010. 130-45.

An excerpt from this essay was also published as “Reading Radiological Film “ Site / Documentary narratives & non-fictional narrativity in film and art 28.Ed. Karl Lydén (2009).

Three days after the explosion and meltdown of Chernobyl’s Nuclear Reactor Unit 4 on April 26 1986, Ukrainian filmmaker Vladimir Shevchenko was granted permission to fly over the site in order to document decontamination efforts being carried out by liquidators or bio-bots (biological robots) as they were sometimes called. The 30-square km radius of the Exclusion Zone marks the limits of a radioactive territory that is still considered too dangerous to support prolonged exposure. When Shevchenko’s 35-mm film footage was later developed, he noticed that a portion of the film was heavily pockmarked and carried extraneous static interference and noise. Thinking initially that the film stock used had been defective, Shevchenko finally realised that what he had captured on film was the image and sound of radioactivity itself.

 

Film stills from Chernobyl: Chronicle of Difficult Weeks, director Vladimir Shevchenko, 1986, 54 mins.

Film stills from Chernobyl: Chronicle of Difficult Weeks, director Vladimir Shevchenko, 1986, 54 mins.

PDF (Tickle Your Catastrophe)

SITE 28 (Reading Radiological Film)