These photographs were originally taken in a radioactive landscape impacted by the direction of the wind after the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the year I was born. I was visiting the Gomel and Mogilev regions of Belarus and noticing a certain hue of blue everywhere I looked that had nothing to do with the country’s Christmas colored flag. The fences, church steeples, doors, cars, aprons and plates were are blue. Not Prussian blue as one might be tempted to assume given the geography, as Prussian is mysterious and more soothing, in obedience to its healing properties and medicinal uses. Instead, this color was brighter, more aggressive, and resembling nothing found naturally in the planet’s organic color palette. A surreal scene—a place trapped in time, blue, toxic with radioactivity and abandoned by much of the younger population for fear of illness and desire for modern urban life and gainful employment. When I asked why things were this strange shade of Cerulean as I later distinguished it, I was told it was the only color paint handed out during the Soviet years, but that it wasn’t really everywhere, it seemed only foreigners thought so. I wonder if something was lost in translation. I later discovered the trains to the Chernobyl Nuclear plant are painted the same color, and according to Nobel Prize winning Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich they found blue caesium in the soil in the aftermath. Blue is also the last major color to historically have been recognized as such, having previously been identified as a non-color in terms of what today we identify as blue-eyed individuals or the skies and sea, not a color but something clear or transparent - previously linked to the clarity of the heavens.
Ceruleania is my answer to the question of an invisible presence—how power, habit, nostalgia, trauma, and even contamination can impact your way of seeing, giving you an impression of something that may not be accurate, and how history can change your understanding of transparency. The photographs are pigment prints painted in Cerulean, and then rephotographed and printed much larger.