Today, post-atomic Chernobyl is mysteriously evolving. The region near the scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident is now dubbed by locals as the “Chernobyl Riviera” for its grand homes and commanding vistas. Recently, Ukraine’s rich and famous discovered this oddly tranquil vacation spot of Chernobyl. They are mainly from Kiev, townspeople say, and their magnificent houses, docks and swimming pools are on full display if you take a boat and ogle from the lake.Three friends wait for a sailboat to arrive that they chartered for the day. The Chernobyl nuclear facility sits on a man-made resevoir used for cooling the reactors and has become a popular destination for Kievans to swim, sail and fish.
Prior to photography, Donald Weber originally trained as an architect and worked with urban theorist Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He has since devoted himself to the study of how Power deploys an all-encompassing theater for its subjects; what he records is its secret collaboration with both masters and victims.
Weber is the author of two books. His first, Bastard Eden, Our Chernobyl, won the photolucida Book Prize and asked a simple question: what is daily life actually like, in a post-atomic world? His latest book, Interrogations, about post-Soviet authority in Ukraine and Russia, has gone on to much acclaim; it was selected to be included in Martin Parr and Gerry Badger’s seminal ‘The Photobook: A History, Volume III.’
He is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lange-Taylor Prize, the Duke and Duchess of York Prize, two World Press Photo Awards, PDN’s 30, was named an Emerging Photo Pioneer by American Photo and shortlisted for the prestigious Scotiabank Photography Prize.
His diverse photography projects have been exhibited as installations, exhibitions and screenings at festivals and galleries worldwide including the United Nations, Museum of the Army at Les Invalides in Paris, the Portland Museum of Art and the Royal Ontario Museum. He is a dedicated teacher and is noted for his ongoing series of lectures and workshops and a frequent trainer with World Press Photo.
Currently Don is working on his next projects, War Sand, about historic sacrifice, and the meaning of war in our modern world and The Drowned City, which explores the City inundated by its technological future. He is a member of the acclaimed VII Photo and is represented by Circuit Gallery in Toronto.
When people think of Chernobyl, they conjure memories of the catastrophe that struck Ukraine’s Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, wreaking havoc with the environment and killing thousands of people. Today, the sky is blue and the land lush with green. There is an odd little corner of this wasteland, a place reserved for the idle rich and adventurous. For years, hunters and fishermen have been plying the shores of Kiev Reservoir, just a few kilometers downwind from the ruined reactor. The locals call it the “Chernobyl Riviera,” a small settlement in the town of Strakholissya; Kievans call it an outdoorsman’s paradise.