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12 Mar 2010 00:00 - 21 Mar 2010 00:00

Hana Vojáčková: Red Balloon 86

The first UK solo exhibition of Czech artist living in London, Hana Vojáčková. An evocative exhibition comprises a series of large-format photographs and a fivescreen video installation, which offer a personal response to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. In Winter 2009, Vojáčková gained extremely rare access to the Chernobyl exclusion zone, one of only a handful of people able to enter and document the startling location.

The inspiration for this body of work came when the artist watched documentary footage from an archive of a former CCCP television channel, which showed a young boy chasing a football in Pripyat, a town two miles outside Chernobyl. The footage was recorded just hours before the Chernobyl explosion, which subsequently shrouded the area with life-threatening levels of radioactivity, leaving Pripyat uninhabitable.


Ever since the radioactive explosion, Chernobyl has remained as it was left 24 years ago. Through her haunting photographs of the city in its present-day condition, Vojáčková reveals a place that is frozen in time and history, steeped in the memory of the disaster.


Throughout this exhibition, the artist also explores notions of personal versus public memory. On visiting Chernobyl, Vojáčková, who was raised in communist Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, came across remnants of the lives of the town’s inhabitants, such as furniture, fabrics and toys.

These paraphernalia struck a personal chord with the artist, as they were similar to those from her own childhood. Thus not only do these works explore the memory of the documented events of Chernobyl, but also invite the viewer to remember their own past, and encourages the viewer to identify with those affected by the disaster.


Superimposed onto each image, and into the derelict locations, is a haunting figure of a young child holding a red balloon, representing the memory of the life that once occupied these spaces. This is reminiscent of the original documentary footage of the child shown chasing a football, and also references the little boy following a helium-filled balloon in Albert Lamorisse’s classic short film The Red Balloon (1956), designed to reconcile a Western European audience with the Eastern European motif. By heavily manipulating her photographs in this way, Vojáčková also plays with the idea that history, memory, and the reproduced image, are “truthful”, and reminds us to question the information that is presented to us.

The accompanying video installation bring the photographs to life by deploying five computer screens across which the viewer traces the path of the child who continues to follow the red balloon in a continuous loop. For the child in this video, there is no future or destination, just an endless journey.

Artist Biography

Hana Vojáčková was born in Prague, Czech Republic in 1979. She completed her postgraduate certificate in photography in 2006-2007 at Central Saint Martins, London, and has exhibited in a number of group exhibitions including
At Home’, at The Maddox Arts, London in 2009, and From Dusk Till Dawn at The Arts Gallery, University of the Arts in 2008. The artist currently lives and works in London.
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The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge) is a 1956 fantasy short film directed by the French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse. Filmed in Paris, the thirty-four minute short follows the adventures of a young boy who one day finds a conscious, mute, red balloon. The films also acts as a record of the Belleville area of Paris, which was destroyed during the late 1960s, and was left untouched for the following 20 years. Nearly all landmarks preserved in this film no longer exist. The film won numerous awards, including an Oscar for Lamorisse for best original screenplay, and the Palme d'Or for short films at Cannes.

Listings information:

Address: 11 Mansfield Street, London W1G 9NZ

Exhibition opens to the public at 12pm on Friday 12th March

(The Private View from 6.30pm-9pm is strictly by invitation only).

Opening Times:

Monday: CLOSED

Tuesday – Friday: 12pm-6pm,

Saturday – Sunday: 12pm-7pm


Further press information:

Stephanie Knox

steph@margaretlondon.com / 07762 069795




30 Kensington Palace Gardens
W8 4QY London
United Kingdom


From: 12 Mar 2010 00:00
To: 21 Mar 2010 00:00


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