Odessa, Donetsk and Luhansk by Mark Neville

Lina in a national costume, Orihovo-Vasylivka village, Donetsk (2018). Images © Mark Neville, courtesy of Nazraeli Press

In February 2022, British photographer Mark Neville moved to Kyiv, a city he frequently traveled to from his home in London. Because there, back in 2016, he started work on the Stop Tanks with Books project, culminating in a new 180-page volume published by Nazraeli Press in April 2022.

When bombs destroy cities and going out into the sunlight means risking your life, can art really make a difference? Do the Muses fall silent when the cannons speak? Of course not. Art has always been the enemy of war because it manages to inspire doubt and create connections against all odds. Mark Neville created shots intimate and deep: this is his personal human gesture and personal attempt to resist aggression. Eighty portraits are placed next to the texts of the Center for Eastern European Studies in Berlin and texts by the Ukrainian poetess and writer Lyuba Yakimchuk describing the life of Donbass.

Donetsk, 2021

“I wonder what the international reaction would be if Stockholm, London, Paris, or New York were threatened by an unprovoked and imminent invasion? Our book is a prayer and a necessary request to the international community,” Neville wrote in the preface to his work. He also sent copies of the book to 750 politicians, diplomats, members of the media, and those involved in peace negotiations.

“I think an artist should deal with real problems, but the catch is that many photographers are too lazy to do this. They think exhibiting their work in a large gallery or publishing it in a newspaper is the ultimate dream. In my opinion, this is not enough. Photography should be useful to society, should change it for the better,” Neville said in an interview with rosphoto.com during his exhibition at MAMM in 2017.

Couple at Stanytsia Luhanska Bridge, 2019
Yana et Igor Karaman with friend Galina, Odessa, 2017
Kristina in Troyitske, Eastern Ukraine, an hour after the shelling, 2016
Woman smoking on a bench in Myrnohrad, Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine 2 March 2021
Mark Neville exhibition at the V&A Museum in London.
Policewomen, Mariupol, 2019
Three Kilometres from the frontline, Donetsk, 2019
Maria Holubets, Natalia Tarasenko, Rozalia Boiko, Maria Shvanyk, and Rozalia Mahnyk at the Greek Catholic Monastery, Zvanivka, 2018
Families eating on Arkadia Beach, Odessa, 2017
Boy with dog, Troitske, Luhansk, 2019
Alexsandr Konokov and Sasha on their Goat Farm in Decyatny, Zhytomyr Oblast, 2017
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