April 26, 1986: Block N 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power station explodes. A 30 kilometer zone around the reactor is evacuated, including Prypiat, the city built to house the power station’s workforce. To rehouse the population, the Soviet government decide to build a new town 60 kilometers away: Slavutich.
Like Prypiat, Slavutich is constructed as a model city: situated in the middle of a forest, its 22000 inhabitants live in detached houses with private gardens or in large flats. The streets are clean, the shops inexpensive. There are no power cuts or heating shortages. A television show broadcasts daily bulletins concerning the power station. Each Soviet Republic had a hand in building a neighborhood in this new city.
As construction reached completion, the authorities discovered that this region is also contaminated.
December 2001: The Chernobyl power station is closed definitely. Of the 12,000 workers, 9,000 will be made redundant.
GUILLAUME HERBAUT, born in 1970, was a founding member of l’Oeil Public. Prize-winner of the Fondation de France in 1999, he has dedicated himself for some years now to historical places, filled with symbols and memory. His work called Tchernobylsty, won the Kodak Critics Prize in 2001 and was published at Le Petit Camarguais in October 2003. Herbaut also won the Fuji Book Prize the following year. Herbaut has been a recipient of a grant from the French Ministry of Culture and 3P. Visa pour l’Image exposed his work in September 2004. The same year Herbaut was winner of the Lucien Hervé Prize. In 2009 he won the second prize contemporary issue at the World Press Photo. Today he carries on with the aim of revealing unseen tragedies.
Herbaut’s work has been exhibited in solo or part of group shows at the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris, at “la maison Rouge”, at Foto España and at the Silverstein gallery in NY. He has produced documentaries for French Radio and been a teacher and mentor in workshops in Spain, Switzerland and France.
Herbaut is represented by INSTITUTE for Artist Management.