A year on, Banda’s vanishing Chornobyl identity is more urgent than ever

After Russia’s seizure of Chornobyl in February risked an accident at the nuclear plant, Banda’s aim to foster awareness of the site through design is still crucial.

Date
27 April 2022

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Last year, on the anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster (26 April), Kyiv and Los Angeles-based creative agency Banda launched an identity for the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. The agency had approached the nuclear plant to discuss creating its identity with one aim in mind: to draw attention to the continuing consequences of the 1986 disaster. The identity was set to renew and adapt every year – in keeping with a disappearing logo Banda created for the work – before eventually ceasing to exist in 2064, when Chornobyl Power Plant will be decommissioned. Yesterday (26 April) marked the identity’s first annual logo renewal, following an evacuation late last month of Russian troops from the Chornobyl power plant. The occupation, in the words of the head of the international atomic energy agency Rafael Mariano Grossi, “threatened humanity with a new catastrophe”.

“As war rages, the risks at the Chornobyl nuclear plant are very high,” says Alexandra Doroguntsova, creative director of Banda agency. “It is crucial to keep in mind the history of this place and understand its future.” “Most people know nothing about what is happening in Chornobyl nowadays. Horror, tragedy, mistake, danger, fear are the tags of the Exclusion Zone even today. But Chornobyl is an amazing synthesis of the frozen city of Pripyat, revived nature and scientific work at the station itself. Scientists from all over the world work there every day to minimise the harm of past events and secure the future.”

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Banda: Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (Copyright © Banda, 2022)

Discussing why the site needed a logo to begin with, Alexandra explains that it is crucial that we keep track of exactly when the nuclear reactions stop and the danger disappears completely. The creative director continues: “One day our agency went on a tour to the Exclusion Zone. The disappearing cities made such a strong impression on us, that we wanted to tell everyone about them and make more people go and see everything with their own eyes. So, we started negotiations with the representatives of the Zone, and it turned out that they wanted to update the image of Chornobyl too.”

Needing branding that would communicate the urgency of the situation led to a powerful solution for Banda: a disappearing logo. “A static icon simply cannot contain such an important message,” the agency explains in a release. The vanishing logo is based on the shape of the fourth reactor, where the disaster at Chornobyl began; every year the logo erodes, until its complete disappearance in 2064. “This way we close this cycle of history and open some space for a new one,” Banda continues. “And this new cycle will require other visual solutions.” Alexandra adds: “Our vanishing logo is an annual reminder – every year we have an occasion to go back to the branding, discover the current situation in Chornobyl, raise awareness about Zone. It is extremely effective and memorable.”

For the renewal of the identity this year, Banda has released a further element of the project. A series of books dedicated to the history of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone have been produced, featuring a design that draws attention to their historic Soviet censorship. The dust jacket of the book performs the function of censorship; by removing it, the reader can find out the events of the disaster, through first-hand stories. The Chornobyl identity also comprises a website, produced with Other Land Studio and Orient Web Development, offering further information about the zone to continue to build wider awareness. “We hope people come back to Chornobyl to keep learning, exploring, and helping,” says Alexandra.

The creative director concludes: “This year it is clearer than ever that the events of one country can affect the whole world. They affect people far beyond its borders. It is a main lesson that we have to learn and remember forever.”

GalleryBanda: Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (Copyright © Banda, 2022)

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Banda: Chornobyl Exclusion Zone (Copyright © Banda, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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