After Chernobyl: Photo Exhibition by Michael Forster Rothbart ’94

Library exhibition: April 6-June 10 (through Alumni Weekend)
Chernobyl Remembrance: April 6, 4-6 p.m., Science Center 199
Reception precedes the 4 p.m. talk. Slide show and lecture with photographer Michael Forster Rothbart ’94 followed by a talk with Vasya Dostoinov ’01, Chernobyl native, who will provide an eye witness account of the incident.


In Chernobyl's liquid radioactive waste treatment facility, wastewater will be purified and the remaining radioactive sediment will be safely stored in barrels. Serhiy Bokov and his colleagues are readying this new facility for operation.

If you lived near Chernobyl, would you stay?

Photographer Michael Forster Rothbart has recently returned from two years in Chernobyl. One year was sponsored by a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship to photograph and interview Ukrainians who remain in villages near Chernobyl a generation after the 1986 accident.

After Chernobyl, an exhibition of documentary photographs, will be displayed through Alumni Weekend, June 10. The photographs reveal daily life for Chernobylites, including residents who chose to stay in the Chernobyl-affected region and liquidators, veterans of the massive Soviet clean-up after the accident.

“Most visitors think Chernobyl is a place of danger and despair, and so this is what they photograph. For me, however, Chernobyl tells a story about endurance and hope,” says Forster Rothbart. “I created this exhibit because I want the world to know what I know: the people of Chernobyl are not victims, mutants and orphans. They are simply people living their lives, with their own joys and sorrows, hopes and fears. Like you. Like me.”

Forster Rothbart was a staff photographer for the University of Wisconsin-Madison for six years and worked previously as an Associated Press photographer in Kazakhstan. Last year, he lived in Sukachi, Ukraine, a small farming village just outside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. He also spent time in Slavutych, Ukraine, the city built after the accident to house evacuated Chernobyl plant personnel.

This exhibition is sponsored by the Departments of Engineering, History, Sociology/Anthropology, the Russian Section, Swarthmore College Library, and the Serendipity Fund.

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