Q

Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: Photographer David McMillan captures a city frozen in time

The Canadian photographer has taken more than 20 trips to capture images of the Ukrainian city of Pripyat, which is now an uninhabited ghost town.
Portrait of Lenin, 1997. Canadian photographer David McMillan first visited the city of Pripyat in 1994. (David McMillan)
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Originally published on April 23, 2019

A tree growing in the floor of a long-abandoned hotel room. Children's shoes and gas masks in a crumbling kindergarten classroom. A rowboat strangely abandoned in the middle of an old train station. Since being evacuated in 1986 after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the Ukrainian city of Pripyat has become a decaying ghost town frozen in time.

The prospect of visiting a barren city devoid of human life and riddled with radiation pockets can drive away many, but it hasn't stopped Canadian photographer David McMillan, who has taken more than 20 trips to capture images of the uninhabited exclusion zone.

McMillan joined q's Tom Power to take us through the large of collection of photos featured in his new book Growth and Decay: Pripyat and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Flags from 1994, 1998, 2009 and 2018. (David McMillan)
Plants and trees have regrown in some of the buildings. (David McMillan)

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation. 

— Produced by Chris Trowbridge

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