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Apr 17, 2015 7:00 PM

Site Specific Art of Chernobyl Zone

Fulbright Scholar Eliška Cílková talks about abandoned musical instruments near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

On April 26th 1986 an accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant that subsequently caused for an area of several thousands of square meters large to become contaminated. The plant’s near surroundings had to be evacuated and most of the people living there never returned to their homes. Today, the Chernobyl area is divided into several zones, which are strictly secured, and entering them is possible only with a special permit. The town of Pripyat, in which about 50 000 people lived, is found in the Zone 1 and it was left completely vacant after the accident.

One former resident of Pripyat told me that in his apartment—in a block of flats opposite the amusement park—in the first room that you enter, on the left, there is a desk. And inside it are his childhood photographs, which he sometimes goes there to browse.

"And why don't you take them away?" I asked him.

"Why? Because then the city would have nothing left" he answered.

This interview has become the main theme of my site specific projects there and musical collection PRIPYAT PIANO which I am going to introduce on this talk. For two long years I have been doing field recordings and I searched for abandoned instruments in the town of Pripyat. It is important to say that in a city that has no serviceable maps or proper information—a city that has closed itself to the world once and for all—this was hard and exhausting work.
But finally, thanks to the Internet and some original inhabitants, I managed to find nine pianos.  Most of them were in a dilapidated condition, but some of them still played. When I saw the large concert grand in an abandoned auditorium, I was sure that the ravages of time, and 27 years' worth of water dripping on instrument with an open keyboard and no upper plate, would have claimed the piano for their own. To my amazement the piano still played.

Eliška Cílková: Pripyat Piano (Musical collection of 9 forgotten pianos)
Eliška Cílková: Pictures and Video from the Zone

Eliška Cílková is a composer whose activities often involve multimedia and conceptual projects, she is rooted in the tradition of modernism as well as postwar cagean avant-garde, she works as a sound artist. She studied composition in Vienna (Universitat fur musik und darstellende Kunst), Prague (Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory) and Prague (Academy of Performing Arts). Currently She is holding a Fulbright grant for academic research regarding music and architecture based on Columbia University in the city of New York.





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Apr 17, 2015 7:00 PM


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