Last November Czech artist Hana Vojáčková was allowed a rare glimpse into the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which has remained hauntingly untouched since the radioactive explosion at the plant in 1986. There she found the town of Pripyat frozen post-disaster and set about documenting the landscape for Red Balloon 86, her first UK exhibition.
Inspired by the similarity of the derelict buildings and found objects to those from her own childhood in communist Czechoslovakia, Vojáčková began manipulating her photographs to challenge the idea of unchanging, truthful memories. Superimposed onto each blue-tinted scene is the ghostly image of a small boy clutching a red balloon, a nod to Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 classic short film which features the soon-to-be-demolished Parisian neighbourhood of Belleville.
Vojáčková’s Pripyat forms a series of eerie, but surprisingly beautiful, large-format photographs and a five-screen video installation, despite the tragedy that took place there.
Red Balloon 86 can be seen at 11 Mansfield Street until 21 March.