It’s been nearly four months since Russia invaded Ukraine and there still appears to be no end in sight. Individuals from all walks of life have rallied to the country’s aid, utilising the internet to preserve Ukrainian websites, crank call Russian bureaucrats, and help refugees find shelter. Two artists have even started selling non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, to funnel money to Ukrainians left in desperate circumstances by the war.
For the multidisciplinary duo Synchrodogs, which is made up of artists Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven, the war is personal. Originally from Ukraine, they began working together in 2008 after meeting each other on an online photography forum. The duo said they were deeply impacted by the war and that they try to use their platform to act as role models and speak truth. They’re confident and hopeful in their ability make a difference.
“Artists should speak loud now and act like public speakers and volunteers, they have the power to change the world, to tell the truth, to fight propaganda and a lot of other things that [will] help Ukraine win this war eventually,” Shcheglova and Noven said in joint responses to Gizmodo via email.
With just one look at their artwork, it’s immediately apparent that Shcheglova and Noven are deeply creative and thoughtful. They describe their art as “personal,” which is why the person featured in their pieces is always Shcheglova. Even their artistic name is one-of-a-kind. The duo explained to Gizmodo that their name is made up of two words. “Synchro” was chosen because they both have the same tastes, ideas, and perceptions in life, while “dogs” stands for their endless love of nature.
“Our art is about the connection between human and nature, at the same time it is always on the edge of real and surreal, natural and artificial,” they said. “We like creating installations in wild nature meant to live for single day only before we shoot and disassemble them, simply because they do not belong there.”
“A Hard Experience”
Shcheglova and Noven said that the war in Ukraine has been “a hard experience” for them. The artists explained that they love their country and its kind and open people. Yet, Ukraine is not how they remember it. They are aghast at the countless pieces of devastating news coming out of the country and the thousands of lives that have been ruined. The scale is heartbreaking, they said.
“Google Bucha, Mariupol”
“Cities that were happily living just some months ago are ruined to ashes by [the] ‘russian world’ which is a pure evil (and it’s not a typo, for us and many other Ukrainians the word ‘russia’ cannot be written with [a] capital letter anymore, it is a part of our protest against terror it is making),” Synchrodogs wrote. “Google Bucha, Mariupol… Ukraine is dealing with army of war criminals.”
Using Art to Resist Russia’s Invasion
The duo has spoken out against the war on social media since the invasion began on Feb. 24, urging their followers not to be silent and to support their home country. Shortly afterwards, they got to work and started using their art to resist Russia’s invasion and help Ukrainians on the ground. The artists began selling prints of their artwork through various initiatives, their website, and galleries worldwide to raise money for Ukraine.
Helping Individuals on the Ground in Ukraine
They also used the power of NFTs and cryptocurrency, selling digital tokens of their work on the platforms SuperRare and Foundation. Through sales generated on their website and from NFTs, Synchrodogs funds a variety of volunteer groups and initiatives that work to help with refugees, evacuation, and building news homes.
In addition, the group told Gizmodo that they’ve used proceeds from their art to buy medicine and donate to medical operations for the injured.
Pictures for Purpose
When it comes to traditional art, Synchrodogs said it’s hard to calculate how much they’ve raised for Ukraine because they’ve been selling through many galleries and initiatives, which each have their own processes and raise funds from other artworks as well. One of the initiatives they donated work to was Pictures for Purpose, which in March raised €200,000 for the charity World Central Kitchen.
“We try to be as helpful as possible,” the artists said.
The Response on Social Media
Synchrodogs said their followers on social media have shown them tremendous support during this tough time, expressing that they were “endlessly grateful.” The duo credit their social media followers with helping them fight off Russian bots who tried to leave cruel comments in response to their activism. The bots didn’t succeed though, Synchrodogs said, and were banned.
Tackling bots and disinformation is especially important considering the role of Russian propaganda in the war, the artists maintained.
Their Message to the World
Online attention to the war in Ukraine is waning, but Synchrodogs has a message for the world: When Ukraine asks for help, it affects everyone. The artists pointed out that their work is not only about stopping war and destruction and Europe, but also about avoiding a disastrous dip in food production. In mid-May, the United Nations said that the war in Ukraine had aggravated a global food crisis that could last for years if it continues unabated.
“We Are Sending Warm Rays of Gratitude to Each One of You”
The war isn’t over yet, but even so, Synchrodogs wants those who have helped Ukraine to know that they are grateful. They thanks those who help the country’s refugees, donate, protest, report on the war, and help out Ukrainians by hiring them. The artists also highlighted the humanitarian aid, equipment, and armory they’ve received by different initiatives and countries.
“You all help us save lives at these uneasy times and we are sending warm rays of gratitude to each one of you,” Shcheglova and Noven said.