On my recent visit to Ukraine, I travelled to Kharkiv to meet up Oleg Veklenko.
Brenda from ICOGRADA had connected me to him earlier and i was fascinated by the thought and energy that a small community of Designers have built up as “4th Block”. 4th BLOCK organises a graphic triennial of International Ecoposters, every three years since 1991. The name of this festival came Nuclear tank that burst in Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The first exhibition took place five years after Chernobyl catastophe and immediately attracted the attention of artists and designers from all over the world.
I spent the day walking with Oleg through the academy of Art and Design, meeting up other designers from the Graphic design Association in Kharkiv and visiting design studios. Oleg had kept a surprise for me. Just the week before the exhibition 25 on 25 -International commemorative poster action by 25 world-renowned designers, in memory of the 25 year anniver- sary of the Chernobyl disaster, had concluded in a gallery, But he kept the exhibition on for me to see !!!
I was touched by this extremely profound gesture. I have brought back the Posters with me and i promised to have them exhibited in Indian Cities.
Oleg was a young army officer when the tragedy happened, he showed me his picture holding the flag at the site, and he took to graphic design soon after to spread the message in an unprecendent way. You dont find many examples of such commitment and passion in our world. I had a very nice and warm reception with the designers, and i will be featuring their work in POOL in coming months. I feel designers should try and visit places where such great ideas emerge, it is inspiring. The Kharkiv academy of Art and Design is fabulous with great work and some great teachers, I think it is a hidden gem. I wish the teaching was in english, I am sure like Ukrainian education in Medicine, Design could be another educational export from Ukraine for the merging worlds.
About the exhibition from their catalogue:
International commemorative poster action “25 on 25” by 25 world-renowned designers, in memory of the 25 year anniver- sary of the Chernobyl disaster.
April 26, 2011 has marked a 25 year milestone of the Chernobyl power plant explosion at reactor number 4, which released a radioactive cloud that caused an unprecedented ecological disaster that not only destroyed lives and livelihoods of those, who were directly in its shadow, but also those born much-much later. This global environmental catastrophe had taught human- ity a lot, it brought about many positive changes in our society, in political views, in science and culture.
Chernobyl remains to be an important historical event that, even today, influences international energy development strategies, and affects scientific assessments when it comes to protection of human health and safeguarding the environment. It, unfortu- nately, gained an even greater historical significance now, after a terrible accident at the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant in Japan.
To commemorate the 25 year anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, graphic designers association “The 4th Block”, with the support of Ukraine’s National Academy of Arts, and other orga- nizations, is launching a poster action called “25 on 25”. Artists, invited to participate in this event are exceptional individuals, highly celebrated among international designers community.
Poster action “25 on 25” is a tribute to those who risked their lives and their wellbeing to protect the world from the nuclear horrors of Chernobyl. Broadening our understanding of modern disasters, this campaign continues, thought artistic means, the efforts of the liquidators at Chernobyl, who battled the aftermath of the accident, and it hopes to help prevent future disasters. The world should be safer and more beautiful.