Berlin Zvizdal [Chernobyl, so far so close]


Contrary to what you might think, since its birth in 2003, Berlin has been based in... Anvers. If this choice of opening sentence might seem like a deliberate desire to confuse the issue, it is actually a reflection of the interest that this artistic duo has in the characteristics of the German capital, in which “past and future are equally present”. Yves Degryse and Bart Baele - associates of Caroline Rochlitz until 2009 - have been exploring these same dimensions in their “Holocene” cycle. Each episode of “Holocene”, the name of the present-day geological era, builds up a portrait of a town or territory, drawing, in particular, on interviews conducted with its inhabitants. The result is a series of autonomous theatrical objects in which video work, staged with brio, plays a major role. After Jerusalem (2003), Iqaluit (2005), Bonanza (2006) and Moscow (2009), Berlin focusses on a remote Ukrainian village. Through the intermediary of the journalist and author Cathy Blisson - a co-partner in the piece - Berlin follows, over a period of five years, the lives of a couple living inside the no-go area around the Chernobyl nuclear power station. After stubbornly refusing to leave their farm, the couple Nadia and Pétro Opanassovitch-Lubenoc, now in their eighties, live without running water, electricity nor telephone, but never give up the hope of one day seeing the village full of people again. A long-term project, Zvizdal unfurls with the coming and going of the seasons, in a world in which danger, invisible as it may be, is all around. It provides us with a reflection on isolation, the question of survival, frugality, and lastly, the expectancy of death.