Internationally acclaimed artists Jane and Louise Wilson are known for their film and photographic works, often exploring states of consciousness and the experience of place. This summer a series of large-scale photographs from their ongoing investigation into the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster premieres at the John Hansard Gallery. The exhibition also features a number of other works, many previously unseen in the UK.
Atomgrad (Nature Abhors a Vacuum), 2010 is a suite of eight photographic prints depicting deserted interiors from the abandoned town of Pripyat, situated within the 30km wide Exclusion Zone around the site of the disaster. Books remain on shelves and desks, bed frames remain intact and once-exquisite parquet flooring lies on the ground like rubble. A yardstick appears within each image and is a recurring motif throughout the exhibition. These objects of measurement – functional yet obsolete – act as a marker of scale and order, alluding to the tensions between association and analysis, memory and material fact.
Other works featured include two from the photographic series The Oddments Room, 2008-9, made in an antiquarian bookshop, alongside ready-mades Altogether, 2010 and Measure Obsolescere, 2010, through which yardsticks punctuate the gallery space, and new photographs from a recent work Face Scripting: What Did the Building See?, 2011. Jane and Louise Wilson were born in Newcastle and currently live and work in London. They began working together in 1989 and have exhibited in major galleries throughout the world. They were nominated for the Turner Prize in 1999.
Jane and Louise Wilson’s work in Chernobyl is commissioned and produced by Forma Arts and Media, in association with John Hansard Gallery, Dundee Contemporary Arts and The Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester. Research has been supported by British Council Ukraine, The Center for Urban History of Central East Europe and the Visual Culture Research Center, University of Kiev.