Chernobyl – no matter if someone was already born at the time of the disaster or was born only later, every one of us can relate to Chernobyl in some way. Although the world of those days was shaken by the nuclear disaster and even many years later the name of the nuclear plant gives us the creeps, the extent of the catastrophe can hardly be felt anymore. The world is still full of nuclear power plants and the area around Chernobyl (the Exclusion Zone) is almost forgotten. Every once in a while we hear some reports from the Exclusion Zone, stories from people who never left, stories showing us the consequences of the disaster, and images we won’t forget so soon again.
In this context Michael Forster Rothbart’s book “Would You Stay?” focuses on the question of home. What does this mean to people and why is this meaning sometimes so big that people even risk their lives by refusing to leave their home under all circumstances. For two years the photographer lived in the region near Chernobyl. The intention of his project, according to the artist, was not to show how dramatic the consequences of the catastrophe actually are, or how dangerous and destroyed the area surrounding the power plant really is after the explosion of the reactor. He wants to show us how normally the inhabitants of this area continued their everyday lives. For the rest of the world it may be a disaster zone. For its inhabitants, however, it is still home and their life, with all its ups and downs, goes on.
Michael Forster Rothbart’s project has really touched me. I’ve also very often been wondering why people would want to stay in a disaster zone even if they haven’t got anything left there anymore and endanger their lives. I believe we only know what home means to us human-beings when it is at stake and taken from us in whatever ways. Being someone who loves traveling I’ve always thought that home wouldn’t mean so much to me. And I couldn’t imagine not leaving right away if my home was in danger. However, if I’m frank I really can’t imagine what not being able to go back HOME actually means.
What do you think? Have you ever been wondering about this? Would you stay??
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