Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

Welcome to the Spencer Collection

Chernobyl Herbarium
  • Anaïs Tondeur
    born 1985
    born: Paris, France
  • Chernobyl Herbarium, 2011–2016
  • 30 inkjet prints after photograms of living irradiated plants from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
  • Object Height/Width: each 14 x 19 1/2 in
  • Anaïs Tondeur, Chernobyl Herbarium, 2011–16
  • Not on display
  • EL2018.005.01-30
  • Loan: Not in the Spencer's collection
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World", 27-Mar-2018
For her Chernobyl Herbarium, Tondeur collected specimens of living, radioactive plants in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Among these plants were common flax, flax-leaf heath myrtle, bastard toadflax, ivy-leaved geranium, lilac cranesbill, gooseberry, velvet bean, and figwort.
She then produced photograms of the collected plants and published them in the form of archival inkjet prints. Photograms are created by laying objects on photo-sensitive paper and exposing them with controlled light, producing images with accentuated silhouettes. This project caught the attention of philosopher Michael Marder, who visited the coast of the Black Sea as a child and was exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl disaster. Marder and Tondeur collaborated on a book focusing on Tondeur’s Chernobyl Herbarium project. In his text, Marder articulates the connections between the Chernobyl Herbarium images, Tondeur’s thoughts about connections to the World War II bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the role of plants as active witnesses of nuclear disasters.