As Russia gathered troops on the Ukrainian border ahead of its full-scale assault on the country in February, UK Ukraine-based photographer Mark Neville began sending out around 750 free copies of his latest publication. Stop tanks with books. The book of photographs taken in Ukraine from 2016 to 2021 has been sent to “members of the international community – be they politicians, celebrities, ambassadors, negotiators or the media – who have the power to help the Ukraine”.
The post opens with an explanation of “why the world should care about this war” – referring to the earlier invasion of the Donbass region and Crimea – and a five-point call to action, which includes launching Ukraine’s NATO membership process, sanctions against Russia, military assistance and debunking false narratives about Ukraine.
In the introduction, Neville explains the importance of helping people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), having suffered himself after being integrated into British troops in Afghanistan ten years ago. The photographer recently told The Art Newspaper podcast that even if the war were to end now, “a whole nation is going to be traumatized.”
The publication also includes five short stories about the conflict in the east of the country, written by Ukrainian novelist Lyuba Yakimchuk. One of the tales, titled “Announcement,” is written in the style of a classified ad, humorously beginning with “For Sale: Useless Dog. Devour food like a crocodile” but continuing with the urgency of displacement caused by the war: “Please be quick, we are leaving in two weeks”.
Neville has photographed different parts of Ukraine since his first visit in 2015 and he settled in the country permanently in 2020. The publication’s images range from vacationers in Odessa and a rave in the kyiv forest, to troops of first line and concrete tank traps in Mariupol. . Below is a selection of images from the book.
Images of Stop Tanks with Books
• Stop tanks with booksMark Neville, Nazraeli Press, 180pp, $60 (HB)