Supporting Ukraine in the Face of Russian Invasion
By David Campany
British artist Mark Neville recently relocated from London to Kyiv, Ukraine. This move occurred during a time when the country faced the imminent threat of war, with 100,000 Russian troops stationed at its borders. Neville’s latest book project, “Stop Tanks With Books,” serves as a plea to the international community to support Ukraine and deter further Russian aggression.
Since 2015, Neville has been capturing the essence of life in Ukraine through his photography. His subjects range from carefree holidaymakers on the beautiful beaches of Odessa to the Roma communities situated near the Hungarian border. He also documents the diverse groups in Kyiv, including churchgoers and nightclub enthusiasts. Moreover, Neville’s lens doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of the conflict, depicting both civilians and soldiers living on the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine.
In collaboration with acclaimed editor David Campany, Neville has compiled eighty captivating photographs for this book. Complementing the powerful visuals are short stories about the conflict penned by Ukrainian novelist Lyuba Yakimchuk. Additionally, the Centre of Eastern European Studies in Berlin has contributed research highlighting the 2.5 million Ukrainians who have been displaced by the war. The collective impact of the visuals, narratives, and research aims to inspire urgent action from the international community.
Neville employs an innovative and activist approach to disseminate his book. In the first edition, he sent out 750 complimentary copies to influential policymakers, opinion-makers, ambassadors, and key members of parliament. His goal was to reach those involved in peace talks and the international media. Neville’s intention was clear: he wanted the recipients of his book to be moved into genuine action that would ultimately result in an end to the war, an end to the bloodshed in Eastern Ukraine, and the withdrawal of Russian forces from occupied territories in Donbas and Crimea. An additional 750 copies were made available for general distribution through Nazraeli Press, and they quickly sold out.
Reflecting on the tense atmosphere in Ukraine during the time of the book’s initial release, Neville wrote, “Do we stay and fight, or do we abandon Ukraine altogether? I can’t help but wonder what the international response would be if Stockholm, London, Paris, or New York were under the threat of an unprovoked and imminent invasion by Russia.” Neville and Nazraeli Press saw this book as a prayer and a necessary plea to the international community, going above and beyond to ensure its production and dissemination before Putin’s invasion. In this crucial second edition, published after the invasion, Neville includes an updated artist’s statement and maps to provide even greater insight.
Mark Neville’s work has earned its place in numerous public and private collections worldwide, such as the Archive of Modern Conflict, Arts Council of England, Kunstmuseum Bern, National Galleries of Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament. He has held major solo exhibitions at prestigious venues like The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, The Photographers’ Gallery in London, the Multimedia Art Museum of Moscow, and the Imperial War Museum in London. Neville has also participated in group shows at Jeu de Paume in Paris, Tate Britain, and Haus Der Kunst in Munich. His photo essay for the New York Times Magazine, titled “Here Is London,” was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. Furthermore, his monograph “Fancy Pictures” received nominations for both Time Magazine’s and the Aperture Foundation’s Photo Book of the Year in 2017. His most recent book, “Parade,” which presents a multi-layered portrait of the farming community in Brittany, France, was nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize in 2020.
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, consider the deluxe edition of Neville’s book. It features an original exhibition-quality photograph personally signed and numbered by the artist. Please note that this deluxe edition is limited to just 20 signed and numbered copies.
For more information about Mark Neville’s book and to support his cause, visit Ratingperson.Image: The cover of Mark Neville’s second edition book, “Stop Tanks With Books.”