Nothing Personal - The Back Office of War . Nikita Teryoshin



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Every day on the news we are shown images of war and destruction. This coincides with global expenditure on arms increasing year after year. However, we are rarely afforded a glimpse behind the curtains of the global arms business. Photographer Nikita Teryoshin travelled to 16 arms fairs between 2016 and 2023 to investigate what happens before wars take place. His aim was to take photographs at exclusive so-called defence expositions— which are closed to the public—on every continent to highlight the global nature of the industry.

Teryoshin deliberately obscures the faces of the business men and women present as it is not his intention to fix blame on individuals. Thea nonymised arms dealers can be seen as a metaphor for a business operating in the shadows and under the radar of the media. His photographs are playful and often focus on bold graphic angles and visual humour such as drinks put down alongside machine guns and geopolitics tote bags. The casual nature of his observations combined with the bright innocent colour palette which runs throughout the imagery is a sinister contrast to the goods on sale. Teryoshin’s use of flash helps him to highlight certain elements and is reminiscent crime scene photography.

Teryoshin first began photographing all types of fairs—agriculture, pets, funerals—because his photography school in Dortmund, Germany was next door to a giant expo hall. In 2016 he ended up at a hunting fair—Hunt and dog—and was surprised how guns, in this instance hunting rifles, attracted old and young visitors. After publishing his series Sons and guns, he became curious to find out what happens at professional arms fairs. He first gained media access to Eastern Europe’s biggest arms fair MSPO in Kielce, Poland in September 2016 due to his work for VICE Germany and the project began. Over a period of years he visited expositions in Poland, Belarus, South Korea, France, Germany, South Africa, China, UAE, Peru, Russia, Vietnam, USA and India.

Nothing Personal - The Back Office of War .  Nikita Teryoshin

Published February 2024
Essay by Linda Åkerström
210 x 285 mm
182pp, 100 images
ISBN 978-1-915423-22-1

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