Exhibition “Reserved place. PSRER” in Gomel

An opening ceremony of the exhibition of photographs by Semen Shevtsov “Reserved place.  PSRER” took place on July 22, 2021 at the Museum of Printing and Photography in Gomel.

PSRER is Polesie State Radiation-Ecological Reserve created in 1988 in the Belarusian part of the Zone of Exclusion of Lands Affected by the Accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.  Today its total area is 217,173.8 hectares. For many decades before the accident, land reclamation was carried out here. The territory was densely populated with developed agriculture. The population left the territory in a short time and forcibly.

After 35 years, we can say that PSRER is not only a monument to the tragedy or a memory of villages that turned into dry faceless definitions “abandoned settlements”. It is also a unique laboratory and a chance for survival for many species of the fauna and flora. The staff of the nature reserve and specialists from other scientific organizations carry out constant radiation and meteorological monitoring, systematic waterlogging of previously drained lands, study of the number, development and change of habitats of animal and plant species.

Currently, PSRER is a territory with a special access regime.  Few can get there: residents of the resettled villages and their descendants come here once a year to the graves of their late relatives; the staff of the nature reserve work on a rotation basis staying in contaminated areas for no more than 15 days. The photographer's view is a chance to see PSRER through the eyes of a “person from the outside”

Semen Shevtsov is a photographer, a cameraman, a graduate of the art and graphic faculty of VSU n.a. P. M. Masherov, was born a year after the tragedy. By the will of fate, he has been photographing the region affected by the Chernobyl disaster for over 15 years being the official photographer of the public organization "Green Cross Belarus". Since 2007, his works have been published in periodicals of different countries, participated in exhibition projects in Belarus, Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine. In 2021, thanks to the Project “Educational Tourism in Regions with Natural Protected Areas in Poland and Belarus”, Semen Shevtsov has had an opportunity to go to take photos at PSRER. The photographs he brought from there are not about the tragedy. This is the photographer's view of today's daily routine of the reserve.

According to the photographer’s speech during the opening ceremony, it is a short story about nature, villages living in memory, people who once were here and people who work here now.

“I tried to get away as far as possible from the topic of the tragedy and to show the everyday life of the staff and inhabitants of the nature reserve,” says Semen Shevtsov.

The Director of the State Institution "Museum of the History of the City of Gomel" Yulia Svyatoslavovna Kupreeva, the Project Coordinator of the NGO “GCB” Natalya Alekseevna Svyatkina, the Project Manager Elena Vitalievna Popova also took the floor at the opening ceremony of the exhibition.

Coming back directly from an expedition to the nature reserve, Anatoly Viktorovich Kulak, a Ph.D. in Biology, the Leading Researcher of the Laboratory of Terrestrial Invertebrates of the State Scientific and Production Association “Scientific Research Centre of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus for Bioresources” also visited the opening ceremony of the exhibition. In his short speech, he enthusiastically spoke about observations of insects at PSRER, new species for Belarus that could be found there, his assumptions about the impact of radioactive pollution on insects.

The official part of the opening ceremony was completed with a small survey of photographic works presented by the Project PR-manager Yulia Latushkova.

You can visit the exhibition until August 21, 2021 at the address:  "Museum of Printing and Photography", Gomel, 7  Kommunarov st. from Tuesday to Saturday at 10am-18pm.

The photographs were taken within the framework of the project "Educational Tourism in Regions with Natural Protected Areas in Poland and Belarus" (as part of the Cross-border Cooperation Programme "Poland - Belarus - Ukraine 2014-2020"). The Project is being implemented by the NGO “Green Cross Belarus” in partnership with GPNIU “PSRER”, the Republican Biological Nature Reserve “Dnepro-Sozhsky” and Podlasie Heritage Association (Poland).

The organizers of the exhibition State Institution "Museum of the History of the City of Gomel", NGO “Green Cross Belarus”, Semen Shevtsov, a photographer:

This publication has been produced with the support of the European Union. Green Cross Belarus NGO is responsible for the content of this publication which in no way reflects the viewpoint of the European Union.