Nikita Teryoshin - Nothing Personal: The Back Office of War

Gost Books

Regular price $60.00

’Nothing Personal’ shows the back office of war, which is the complete opposite of a battlefield: an oversized playground for adults with wine, finger foods and shiny weapons. Dead bodies here are mannequins or pixels on screens of a huge number of simulators. Bazookas and machine guns are plugged into flatscreens and war action is staged in an artificial environment in front of high-ranking guests, ministers, heads of states, generals and traders.’

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.

‘Nowadays companies use slogans like, ‘70 years defending peace’ or, ‘Engineering a better tomorrow.’ It is hard to imagine, that some people in the weapons industry believe these things. Still there is a remarkable quote from the inventor of the machine gun Richard Gatling that says: ‘It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could, by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as 100, that it would, to a large extent, supersede the necessity of large armies and consequently, exposure to battle and disease be greatly diminished.’ Ironically, rather than decreasing the number of soldiers on the battlefield, his invention led to unimaginably greater bloodshed.’

Published February 2024
Essay by Linda Åkerström
210 x 285 mm
182pp, 100 images