"...and make yourself at home"

installation 

drypoint, acrylic paint and fabrics

2020

My grandfather Igor, who unfortunately I did not have a chance to see, was in Chernobyl in 1986 as an engineer and liquidator of the accident. After receiving large doses of radiation, he died of blood cancer, leaving my grandmother Mila alone in a one-room apartment quartet, which was received as a reward for my grandfather’s work. My grandmother, however, had two close friends Valya and Ira, who worked together with Mila and Igor in the same RosAtom Ministry and who also connected their fate to tragedy. In Chernobyl, Valya worked for three months as a secretary, Ira went with her husband only for a few weeks. All three women in the result received the status of "Chernobyl Widows", irreparable health consequences, painful memories. 

 

The accident at the Chernobyl NPP is a disease that has poisoned entire generations. The people who lived through all this horror, who took part in the liquidation, who saw everything in real life, have been forgotten and abandoned like blunders in history. All experienced memories have been incorporated into their way of life, into their typical one-room apartments. This work explores the intersection of present and past, the indistinguishable consequences of the catastrophe and the permanence of the place. 

 

The installation is an image of a typical Khrushchev apartment in which Ira, Mila and Valya still live. Each heroine has her own room, which represents her perceptions of the past and today.

 

Enter:

"What can I tell you...

He told me to throw it all away."

Mila 

Bathroom:

"Every day has a shower. There is a long corridor with many rooms, like in a regular school or camp. The shower was cold, it was necessary to wash thoroughly, but quickly, because there was a long queue.  They all cleaned and washed everything, but when you were last in line, it was uncomfortable. I remember how I wanted to go home these minutes."

Valya

Kitchen:

"A lot of young soldiers tried to eat huge, juicy apples that were soaked with the radiation. Heavy apples fell from the trees and then were eaten by hungry animals."

Mila 

Bedroom:

"She will not tell you anything because she does not remember anything. She won’t even recognize me anymore."

Ira’s son

 © 2020 by Serafima Bresler.