Senior Lecturer exhibits unseen photos of Chernobyl disaster in Manchester

05 October 2021

Nicholas Young, senior lecturer for BA (Hons) Creative Advertising, has taken a slightly different path from his usual teachings as part of his research and development as an academic.

His current research looks at story-telling, utilising photography as a post-narrative, thirty years on from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, and the photo visuals will be exhibited to the public this Autumn.

The exhibition takes place at Café Blah in Withington, Manchester between 16 - 30 October, and the selected images explore the topic of absence by showing the abandoned town of Pripyat, the closest town to Chernobyl, along with images inside the control room inside the power station at the exclusion zone.

Image Credit: Nicholas Young, Senior Lecturer BA(Hons) Creative Advertising, taken close to the Chernobyl exclusion zone

Nicholas originally visited the exclusion zone in 2016 and the visit provided an abundance of material for study. From a map that has been created and displayed in various galleries (including a guerrilla show in the museum in Pripyat) to a short film and even a music performance. The exclusion zone is said to encompass some 1,600 miles to indicate the boundary in which radiation is simply too high for human habitation.

Although Nicholas has worked in advertising for 15 years he admits he’s most interested in storytelling, and how you can use the experience of your audience to help you tell your story.

Image: Nicholas Young, Senior Lecturer BA(Hons) Creative Advertising, taken in the control room at the exclusion zone

Nicholas said: “Through the course of my research, I have developed a methodology I call ‘reductionism’. I define reductionism as ’storytelling through absence.’ By deciding what to leave out of a story you can allow your audience to put themselves into it and make it more meaningful for them.

"It has taken me five years to really look at the photographs I took there, but there is a lot of ‘absence’ in the story of the Chernobyl disaster. First there was an absence of truth in what the residents of Pripyat were told. And now there is an absence of people from the exclusion zone."