Postcard from Chernobyl

Chernobyl is a site of melancholy. It’s not just the grief, the loss, the cost and the risk of extinction. Chernobyl and Pripyat’s melancholy is inscribed in the landscape. Forest takes over the agricultural and industrial ground plane. Apartment blocks stood proud on this stratum of Soviet achievement.

But the horizon breaks through, symbol of loss, hope and yearning. It’s in the vast concrete and asphalt concourses fringed by wild nature, and the views from the tops of abandoned apartment blocks. Feet on grit and shattered glass perforate the hollow silence.


  • Search posts for “horizon” and “melancholy.”
  • Also see Blackwell, Andrew. 2013. Visit Sunny Chernobyl: Adventures in the World’s Most Polluted Places. London: Random


  1. This is a deep and unsettling post. The landscape as a scripture of melancholy, forever contingent and in flux. I also like the video, its quite raw and well composed. I have encountered similar feelings in the Landmines field in Herat, Afghanistan, where the contaminated landscape since Soviet Invasion has evolved into a sort of melancholic geography.

    Such terrain reminds me of something W.G Sebald wrote:
    ‘Humankind’s endeavours end in melancholy, barren emptiness and death, because humankind is just one further experiment undertaken by nature on its inexorable path to self-destruction. It is not primarily that we destroy nature, but that nature, using us as one of its agents, destroys itself.’

    Also according to recent Wild Life studies at Chernobyl suggests that the wild-life has reclaimed the desolate radioactive zone, and now rules the poisoned land. Indicating human as more damaging to the wildlife and ecosystems than radiation itself.

    Can’t wait to start my PhD and discuss this in detail.

    1. Hi Asad, Good to hear from you. Thanks too for the reference. I managed to edit the video on my iPhone during the two-hour trip back to Kiev. I believe all the livestock was culled after the accident. Domestic pets have gone wild and interbred through several generations now. They hang around workers and visitor groups in the exclusion zone. I didn’t see any bears or wild horses. I’ll have more to say in my next post. Here’s another a link to your interesting project page, in case visitors forget to click on your name:

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