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Russia: Canadian Chernobyl Exhibit Honors Firefighters

  • Carol Macivor

Ottawa, 15 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Canada has opened an exhibit honoring the firefighters who tried to extinguish the fire at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine in 1986.

The art exhibit opened this week in Ottawa, Canada's capital. It consists of six photographs -- each measuring three-by-four-and-a-half metres. They depict six firemen who died at the reactor site trying to put out the blaze caused by the worst accident ever at a civilian nuclear power facility.

The faces are enlargements from a newspaper photo enhanced by computer and printed on vinyl. The exhibit was the idea of a London-based visual artist, Stefan Gec. He says "the size of the images was fed by an East European ethic on heroism."

In the Soviet Union, says Gec, important political or historical figures were often represented in massive statues or images. He says that, with the changes there, it makes sense to turn that iconography on its head, making what he calls regular folks -- the true heroes of Chernobyl -- the subjects of larger-than-life tributes.