“Untitled Project from Chernobyl” to Restore Film Negatives from the Exclusion Zone Placed on Hold Due to Invasion of Ukraine


When the area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was evacuated, it was done in such haste that many people left their entire lives behind.

assorted-color folder lot
Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral

Among the objects left include rolls of film that Maxim Dondyuk has cataloged in a project he calls “Untitled Project from Chernobyl.”

In a recent interview with CNN, Dondyuk describes the Chernobyl disaster, its impact on the region and its people, and a little bit about how his work is being impacted by the invasion of Ukraine currently ongoing.

“I was amazed at how the Soviet government evacuated these people, promising them that they would return in a few days, and not allowing people to take with them such priceless things as letters, (or) photos of relatives (and) friends…They didn't realize…that they would never be back to their homes where they were born, or where they lived their whole lives.”

The photographs and other media collected so far include everything from wedding photos to your average slice-of-life fare. Basically, it is a pastiche of Soviet daily life at the time.

His work was exhibited in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, as well as the German city of Hamburg among other venues. Dondyuk has placed his work on the “Untitled Project” on hold to document the battle of Kiev currently ongoing.

“I was able to finish the restoration step, and then the war started…So for now all the found (photographs) are restored and (organized) in folders and are waiting to be scanned. I'll be able to do (that) only after the war ends.”

Dondyuk hopes to continue his work when possible and continue to show the collection in foreign venues in the future when the war is over.

You can read the interview on CNN at this link.

You can also check out Dondyuk’s work at this link right here.

There are some other photography news headlines you might want to check out at this link right here.


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Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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