We were evacuated from Prypyat when I was only one-year-old. My father, an engineer, was working in the plant on the night of the accident. He was then 28-years-old and my mother, only 23-years-old.
At the time, the average age of residents in Prypyat–a small town three-kilometers away from Chernobyl, built for the families of the nuclear power plant employees–was 26-years-old. All of them (almost 50 000) had to leave the town less than 2 days after the disaster of the 26th of April 1986, when the 4th reactor of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant exploded during the systems test, releasing a cloud of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive area – still the biggest nuclear disaster in the modern history.
In 2011, at the age of 26, I revisited my hometown for the first time–a town I never knew and never will. The accident at the plant drastically and radically altered my parents’ lives and also my own. In many respects, all of my desires and passions sprung from the ruins of Chernobyl. And many people who I miss are gone because of it. I returned again in 2012 to finish the self-portrait part of the project.
Prypyat Mon Amour documented my (re)immersion into what is now a ghost town, the little town that marked my life’s genesis and also became my greatest influence.
Now, that the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl approaches, I want to go back to Pripyat to concentrate not on my life, but on lives of other people, who were evacuated from the Zone back in 1986.
Some of them are my age, some are older – others have children themselves, but all of them somehow got influenced by Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster. I want to track some of these people, and see how Chernobyl changed their lives – and I want to return to Pripyat together with them, to mark the starting point, ground Zero of their current life.
Alina Rudya is a Ukrainian photographer, currently living and working in Berlin, Germany. In 1986 she was evacuated from Pripyat, Ukraine, following the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. The town of Pripyat and its former inhabitants is the main focus of her current project.