Tens of thousands of people were killed in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, and hundreds of thousands within a radius of 30 kilometres of the failed reactor were evacuated.
A few thousand could not resign themselves to spending the rest of their lives on a prefab estate in an anonymous suburb of Ukraine or Belarus. They fought to return to their houses in the so-called circle of death. Today around 160 people still live in decaying and abandoned villages, mainly women, many of them aged well over eighty. The men died long ago. The Widows of Chernobyl are self-sufficient and receive a small state pension of around EUR 50.
Ukraine is a relatively new country. Twenty-seven years after the break-up of the Soviet Union, it is more divided than ever. War is raging in the east between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian nationalists. Domestic politics is a struggle between forces who want rapprochement with the EU and those who want to remain independent. Society is riven between conservative Christian circles and progressive liberal modernisers. A multimedia confrontation with a country on a blood-stained quest for its identity.
Japan is a country of real contradictions – which are increasingly leading to impossible tension. The struggle between tradition and modernity, eastern and western living, protecting and opening up the country poses great challenges. The economy is crashing, the population dying off. A photo-essayistic approach to an elusive country.
More than twenty years after the end of the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a divided country. Former enemy groups seem on the surface to live peacefully together, but the tension is palpable in everyday life. While older generations seek to forgive, young people try to forget. They hope for a future in a land with a tragic past. Portraits from Srebrenica and Sarajevo.
In my book, Japan - Abseits von Kirschblüten und Kimono, I show Japan in a way that's different from the way a tourist may explore it. It's a very personal Japan.Patrick Rohr Kommunikation GmbH
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