By Louis Jacobson
© Washington City Paper
Thursday, June 10, 2005.
Sometimes art is greater for its substance than for its technique. Such is the photography of Gabriela Bulisova.
Bulisova — a native of Czechoslovakia who is finishing up an MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore — chronicled the aftereffects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which killed 30 people, forced the evacuation of thousands more, and, over the longer term, is expected to cause countless cancers and untold environmental destruction.
In a technical sense, Bulisova’s color images are not especially memorable, but the stories they tell are chilling, distilling as they do individual stories from an event of mass destruction. Bulisova, who visited the 20-mile “exclusion zone” in 2003 and 2004, found mostly grimness, though sometimes leavened by a surface happiness: a blind man who loves to play the accordion to counter the silence that surrounds him; three children gazing through the window of an orphanage/mental asylum, smiling broadly; the mayor of a town grappling with a legacy of contaminated soil, shown wandering through a street lightened by gloriously hued drapes and wall paint. (Mayor of Yelna, Polesia Region, Northern Ukraine is pictured.)
More often than not, Bulisova finds life returning to the region—even where it’s not supposed to.
The show is on view from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays, to Wednesday, June 15, 2005 at the Fraser Gallery, 1054 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 298-6450. (Louis Jacobson)
© Copyright 2005 Washington City Paper