Donald Weber Photographer

Stalker

The people most affected by the explosion of Reactor Number Four on the morning of April 26,1986, soon learned that the event known as Chernobyl was predicted by a feature film made seven years earlier. Stalker, by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, explored the limits of our technical explanatory power against the backdrop of a mysterious force that can only be approached on foot, by forest “stalkers” who have learned to accept its risky gifts.

The portentous coincidence that links these two isolated small towns – one, the infamous home of a nuclear disaster, the other, a fictional source for metaphysical speculation – is the subject of this photographic project, ” Stalker.” Today, real stalkers live inside the official 30-kilometre Exclusion Zone in Chernobyl and secretly strip the dead city of its valuables, while avoiding the security forces – and the ghosts of the ruptured past.

This story documents their twilight existence as scavengers of our newest Lost Civilization.

As stalkers, these homeless men and women who wander the Zone, take over abandoned apartments and village homes, looting and stripping them of the remaining valuables, we see a terrible future revealed. The most precious commodity is bulk metal, stripped of its function ­ copper, aluminum and chrome, which they collect and sell to distributors in Kiev and beyond. Our grand technical vision, the city as pure laboratory, quickly recedes into the hunting and gathering primitivism of a future stone age.