Artist probes Russia's toxic legacy through family history

Posted at 3:12 AM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-20 03:12:57-05

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian artist has put a spotlight on what he calls "the ruins of a Soviet mythology" with a new exhibit that focuses on the chemical industry in his hometown.

The exhibit at Moscow's Museum of Modern Art features Pavel Otdelnov's architecturally precise paintings of decayed factories in the city of Dzerzhinsk interspersed with objects from factory workers' daily lives.

Otdelnov was born into a "labor dynasty" that gave the city, the center of Soviet chemical manufacturing, several generations of chemical workers. His mother boiled his parents' bedding daily because his father's skin absorbed chemicals and yellowed the sheets.

Many plants that were part of the military industrial complex didn't survive the collapse of the Soviet Union, but their toxic waste remains buried in underground dumps or seeping from landfills.