Anita Sulimanovic

The Exclusion Zone – Dystopia or utopia?

Kinetic Installation at Pro Arts, Oakland, 2019

Severe events could cause the extinction of all human life on the planet Earth. The age of the Earth is about 4.5 billion years and billions of species have gone extinct throughout our planet’s history. The rapid loss of species we are seeing today is estimated by experts to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.

Nature is powerful, it consumes everything. As we can see decades after the nuclear Chernobyl disaster in Eastern Europe, wildlife in that area defies radiation. Even though it contains some of the most contaminated lands in the world, it has become a haven for wildlife. The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is teeming with life. There may be plutonium in the zone, but there is no herbicide or pesticide, no industry, no traffic, no people. There is nothing to disturb nature.

Nature takes over the abandoned buildings inside the Exclusion Zone. The benefits to wildlife of removing people from the zone have far outweighed any harm from radiation.

The site-specific installation “The Exclusion Zone – Dystopia or utopia?” is taking place in the unique, confined window space of the Pro Arts Gallery Project Space. The work represents a hypothetical catastrophe (nuclear, tsunami, earthquake, or else caused by global warming or political conflicts) that happened at the site. After some time, nature will take over space. Eventually, we might ask ourselves whether the scene looks more like a utopian of a dystopian landscape.