First look: BERLIN, Zvizdal: [Chernobyl - so far so close]

Melissa Starker, Creative Content & PR Manager

Dec 21, 2018

An audience is split into two groups, a large movie screen between them holds an image from a documentary film, and tables beneath the screen hold dioramas in a production still from Zvizdal [Chernobyl - so far so close] by Belgian performance group Berlin

For the first performing arts event of 2019, we're excited to share a new-to-America work that unites the Wex's mix of creative disciplines: performing arts, visual art, film, and education. The story of Zvizdal plays out through a unique approach to cinema presentation, enhanced by actors and a line of incredibly detailed dioramas for audiences to inspect and explore.

Collaborating as BERLIN since 2003, artists Bart Baele and Yves Degryse started this project, as they do all projects, by focusing on a place. This time, it was Zvizdal, a Russian village that was evacuated over 30 years ago due to the fallout from the historic accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant. When the call to leave comes, Pétro and Nadia, a couple who've spent their entire lives there, decide to stay behind.

Baele and Degryse catch up with the couple in the present, after decades of living alone and sustaining themselves by working the irradiated land. Now in their eighties, Pétro and Nadia share the effects of solitude, hard work, and hardship in what is ultimately a story of hope, love, and survival.

Keep scrolling for more info about Zvizdal, along with images and a teaser trailer for the Wex presentation.

Production still from Zvizal [Chernobyl - so far so close] by the Belgian performance group Berlin

BERLIN has toured Western Europe with Zvizdal but with the Wex presentation, Columbus arts lovers will be the first to see the work in the US.

"Today’s state-of-the-art visual culture comes face to face with the primeval forces of weed-infested nature and a raw survival instinct.—De Standaard"
Close-up of diorama from Zvizal [Chernobyl - so far so close] by the Belgian performance group Berlin

As the company prepares to join us in Columbus, it's been garnering international attention in the art world for a move made in connection with their most recent project, True Copy, about the life of master forger Geert Jan Jansen. Dutch writer Mira Feticu thought she discovered a stolen artwork by Picasso in the Romanian woods; she actually found a fake that had been planted by BERLIN. It's been derided in the press as a prank, but to BERLIN, it was an essential element of telling the story.

"The idea is to draw attention to a number of sore points within the art trade. BERLIN invariably links special, personal stories—like the one from Geert Jan Jansen—to universal themes in its shows, with non-fiction often flowing seamlessly into fiction,” the company explained in a statement.

Close-up of diorama from Zvizal [Chernobyl - so far so close] by the Belgian performance group Berlin

Join us January 11-12 to experience BERLIN's unique approach to mining drama from the world in which we live.

Images: production stills from Zvizdal including diorama details, ©BERLIN