We entrust readers with thirty fragments of reflections, meditations, recollections, and images — one for each year that has passed since the explosion that rocked and destroyed a part of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in April 1986. The aesthetic visions, thoughts, and experiences that have made their way into this book hover in a grey region between the singular and self-enclosed, on the one hand, and the generally applicable and universal, on the other. Through words and images, we wish to contribute our humble share to a collaborative grappling with the event of Chernobyl. Unthinkable and unrepresentable as it is, we insist on the need to reflect upon, signify, and symbolize it, taking stock of the consciousness it fragmented and, perhaps, cultivating another, more environmentally attuned way of living.
“The Chernobyl Herbarium is stunning. Taking ‘plants as their guides’, Michael Marder and Anaïs Tondeur cast us into the ‘exploded consciousness’ resulting from Chernobyl in this arresting collection that pairs philosophical meditations with imprints of radioactive plant specimens. Radiant, dazzling, disturbing, The Chernobyl Herbarium is utterly indispensable for anyone considering cataclysmic yet imperceptible events, the singularity of vegetal life, or the trans-species solidarities of exposure.”