The Sun Shines in Kiev

The project takes its title (The Sun Shines in Kiev) from the headline of an article published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on May 9, 1986, a few weeks after the terrible nuclear disaster in Chernobyl. Rossella Biscotti conducted in-depth research on the subject, drawing on the resources of two of the most important independent centers for anti-nuclear action and for research and documentation on this form of energy, the WISE archive and the LAKA Foundation in Amsterdam. After studying Film Badge Dosimetry in Atmospheric Nuclear Tests, a book published in 1989 by the National Academy Press in Washington D.C., which described how to monitor radiation by developing film mounted on special holders, the artist focused on the possibility of visually representing nuclear energy through the physical evidence that radiation exposure leaves on film. Around this concept, she developed The Sun Shines In Kiev, a project made up of a video, three slide projections and a poster. Having chosen to expand her study, she concentrated on film material produced during the accident at the Ukrainian power plant, and despite the obvious difficulties resulting from the well-known attempts of various governments and authorities to hide the truth, managed to collect original documents.

The video in the installation traces the life story of Vladimir Shevchenko. The Ukrainian director, who died of cancer in 1987, was one of the first people to visit the scene and make a documentary about the incident, shooting over 20,000 meters of 16mm film. In the video, Biscotti evokes the incomprehensible loss of Shevchenko’s footage through a series of black images that make up most of the work. These “non-existent” images, edited into the original footage, are accompanied by voiceovers of the director’s wife and the cameraman, who were both interviewed for the project. The artist was not just interested in the rather heroic figure of the director, but in the relationship between history and the relativity of its narration, as emphasized by the audio, which highlights constant contradictions in the story. The three slide projectors that complete the project, along with the poster that illustrates the research and methods involved, show stills which the artist has cut out of 35mm film taken in the first days after the accident. The white stains that appear and disappear from slide to slide are the traces that nuclear radiation left on the film, the proof that Shevchenko, however unwittingly, succeeded in depicting the radioactive rays emitted by the disaster.

The Sun Shines In Kiev, 2006. The Sun Shines In Kiev, 2006. Double sided poster, 84 x 59 cm cm. Design Louis Lüthi