Yes, you read that right! Chernobyl, the famous site nuclear disaster site in Ukraine, held a rave and art show – the first cultural event held in the space since the disaster, which occurred over 430 years ago – called Artefact. If you aren’t familiar with what happened, or haven’t seen the move ‘Chernobyl Diaries’, let’s fill you in.
At 1:23 A.M on April 26th, 1986, a power surge disrupted a routine systems test and Chernobyl Reactor No 4 went into complete meltdown. Next, a blast pierced the 450-ton roof of the reactor. Soon after, a second explosion blew a clear cloud of toxic smoke high into the atmosphere. The radioactive material that was released from Chernobyl’s reactor was 400 times more than the combined fallout over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the second world war. It caused 4,000 premature deaths, and radiation spread as far as Ireland.
Fast forward to 2018, and Chernobyl is now a tourist zone, with 20,000 visitors passing through last year. It’s an eerie site, but also a perfect place to hold a festival or rave. After all, many of the coolest raves happen in abandoned places. ‘The Zone’, the nickname adapted to the disaster space, was once home to more than 120,000 people. Now the population is estimated at around 200, most of whom called Chernobyl their home before the disaster and refused to leave during the evacuation.
Svetlana Korshunova, the curator of Artefact, explained his motivation on why he chose now to host the event:
“Some people do not want anything to pass in Chernobyl. They see this place as too sad and tragic for any kind of event. Others want to change the alienation zone, to fill it with new meanings. We are grateful to you for coming, and for believing us. The Zone is safe. We are here to make this place better, and to change the face of Chernobyl.”
The event had music, LED lights that played an interactive role with parts of the original town and infrastructure, and even soldiers that danced to the beat. Many attendees felt like they were on a movie set or at a giant festival, not standing in a real place where people lived. It’s awesome to see Chernobyl bring such culture and light to the space again, as it’s been such a mystery over the last 30 years. It won’t be habitable for 24,000 years, but hey – why not have a night of fun and dancing?
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