Black Grass focuses on the abandoned remnants of humanity and the life that thrives without it in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The Zone is an area in a 30 km perimeter around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor where people are forbidden to enter without authorization and an escort due to the harmful levels of lingering radiation.
When I traveled to Chernobyl, Ukraine in May of 2016, it had been thirty years since the nuclear power plant exploded. Spring was just beginning, and green was erupting from unexpected places. I was awed by the vegetation’s ability to break through buildings and pavement; it seemed as though no material could stop it. Thirty years without human influence turned a once populated city into a wildlife sanctuary. The exclusion zone was strangely one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited. I had the impression that there was no chance of encountering another human besides the few I came with.
This project ties into my previous work which brings to light consequences of people's thoughtless actions. Similar to the Titanic catastrophe, where excess and overconfidence in technology resulted in too few lifeboats being available for passengers, the Chernobyl disaster demonstrates the potential repercussions of humanity’s hubris.
Visit the Chernobyl Flora & Fauna Drawings page to view drawings of some of the flora and fauna captured in this film.