Exposure.  Photographs by Kazuma Obara.
Exposure.  booktease preview.


Photographs by Kazuma Obara.
RM, Barcelona and Mexico City, Spain, 2018. 110 pp., 104 color and 34 black-and-white illustrations, 5x7½".

Selected as one of the Best Books of 2017 by:
Publisher's Description

Trade Edition of 1900 copies (100 of which were released early at Paris Photo.)

Thirty years have passed since world's worst nuclear accident happened at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP) in the former Soviet Union (currently, Ukraine). Photojournalist Kazuma Obara explored Ukraine from February 2015 to April 2016. Project 30 aims to depict people in Ukraine who have a connection to the explosion; whose lives were altered by the sudden release of atomic energy and subsequent political strife. To depict this, Obara challenged traditional visual representation by creating 4 different types of objects: two photobooks, a magazine, and a replica of newspaper. The photobook Exposure depicts the first 30 years of life of an invisible girl who suffers ongoing medical problems as a result of the disaster. The images were created by using old Ukrainian colour negative film which was found in the abandoned city of Pripyat. Another photobook, Everlasting, captured the commute of the ChNPP's workers between their hometown and the plant as a metaphor for the cycle of repetition. Decontamination work has been handed down from generation to generation since the accident. Given the difficulty of dealing with radioactive waste it seems as though this process could go on for ever. Supporting those two photobooks, Obara make the replica of an old newspaper which was found in Pripyat from the time helps to feel the passing of time.

'In January 2015, I decided to undertake a project on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Two months later, I had the opportunity to exhibit in Kiev the photographs which I had taken of the disaster caused by the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. I made a visit to the city to attend the opening, where I was greeted by one of the guests, Maria. She told me that she had a serious thyroid disease. A very sociable woman with a cheerful smile on her face, she was entirely different from what I had imagined from a victim of the Chernobyl accident. We exchanged contact information and promised to see each other again.

We met again that July. I contacted Maria and asked her to tell me more about her life story. I sent her a list of questions in advance before visiting her at the apartment where she lived with her husband. At the beginning of the interview, Maria read out her answers to my questions which she had composed into an essay, as if she were reading me a long letter. ‘I asked my mother a lot of questions, as I hardly know exactly what happened back then’, she said. The interview lasted over two hours. Every now and then tears welled up in her eyes, some of which streamed down her cheeks, silently. Her words had a profound impact on me, and I became determined to convey her words above anything else.

In April, by sheer chance I had got my hands on some twenty rolls of Ukrainian medium format film which had expired in 1991 or 1992. The film had been found in Pripyat, the city that was abandoned following the nuclear accident. I loaded the film into my camera and began to photograph. After several experiments, the images published in this photobook finally emerged. The resulting images were rather abstract, avoiding any instant identification with Chernobyl. Because of this ambiguity, I felt that these images had the potential to overcome the current overflow of images of Chernobyl, a topic that seems to have been over-exposed over the last thirty years. However, the photographs seemed to me to have lost their original power. They were waiting for Maria’s voice to accompany them. By bringing the images and her words together, I hope that readers will be able to feel at least a tiny part of her long-lasting, invisible pain.” — Kazuma Obara

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