In Ukraine right now, history is being written, recorded and documented; history will undoubtedly be studied by our children and grandchildren for decades to come. But although the world craves raw facts about what's happening, it mustn't be just journalists that testify; artists have a crucial role to play too.
In a fast-changing situation, any display of artists' work runs the risk of becoming dated very quickly. But a new exhibition, Ukraine Now, has found an inspired way around this: it's actually being updated in real-time.
Featuring work from 16 artists on the ground in Ukraine, it juxtaposes images from before Russia's invasion with arresting photographs documenting today's devastation.
The exhibition is being digitally displayed to the public at creative agency Wieden+Kennedy London's gallery (16 Hanbury Street, E1 6QR) until 31 May. It has been created in partnership with Odesa Photo Days, an international festival of contemporary photography based in Ukraine and is supported by Photofusion, a not-for-profit photography resource centre in south London.
Kateryna Radchenko is curating it, and the featured artists are Yurko Dyachyshyn, Andriy Lomakin, Volodymyr Petrov, Stas Yurchenko, Mykhaylo Palinchak, Elena Subach, Serhii Nuzhnenko, Viacheslav Ratynski, Yulia Chervinska, Oleksandr Navrotskyi, Alina Smutko, Serhiy Hudak, Shilo Group, Pavlo Dorohoi, Igor Efimov and Kateryna Moskalyuk.
Kateryna's intentions are unequivocal: "We must tell our story to prevent it from happening ever again, or being silenced," she says. "So it's important to show what is happening in Ukraine now. Yes, there are many international journalists in Ukraine covering the events daily. However, there is a big difference between pictures taken by journalists temporarily visiting and photographers shooting in their home cities and towns. The latter know the context and have no opportunity to return home to a safe place after completing their assignment."
The project is raising much-needed funds for the Ukrainian Charity Foundation The Depths of Art, supporting those working in art, music, theatre, literature and cultural studies. Visitors can donate via a dedicated JustGiving page or can buy prints via Photofusion.
Susan Hoffman, executive creative director at Wieden+Kennedy London, says: "When I first saw the work of the Ukrainian artists, I was overwhelmed by the power of the imagery and the strength of creativity through something as catastrophic as war.
"I instantly wanted Wieden+Kennedy to help shine a spotlight on the Ukrainian community, who are boldly continuing to tell their stories through art. Ukraine Now is an important public exhibition that shows the real-time devastation of war from a unique, on-the-ground perspective and highlights the unrelenting power of creativity."