Is $420 Billion Arms Feast just Business?


The $420 billion Arms Feast is just Business or not

People in formal attire walked back and forth by the clean booth, surrounded by flowers, wine and food. This is an elegant and joyful occasion. Only the metallic guns that occasionally show up make the visitors realize that they are in a weapons exhibition.


Ordinary people who want to see the face of arms dealers can only imagine by watching science fiction movies like "Creed". Photographer Nikita Teryoshin found a way in reality. Since 2016, he has been filming at 14 weapons exhibitions held around the world, trying to get a glimpse of the "backstage" of the war in this way.


Is arms sale an invisible battlefield?

The arms sale is an ancient and mysterious business, but its scale should not be underestimated. According to data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden in 2019, from 2015 to 2019, the global arms trade volume increased by approximately 6% from 2010 to 2014. In 2019 alone, global arms sales have climbed by nearly 5%, and the total amount of transactions reached 420 billion US dollars.


Infographics on Billion Arms Business

The arms exhibition is usually called the "defense exhibition" or "weapons and equipment exhibition". Officials, arms dealers and second-hand arms dealers will conduct arms sales here. 

The exhibition is open to the public media, and photographers only need to register to participate. Some famous defense exhibitions are held every two years, such as the European International Defense Exhibition (Salito Defense Exhibition), the largest UAE defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi in North Africa and the Middle East.


Born in Russia, Teryoshin is a freelance photographer and moved to Germany when he was 13 years old. Watching exhibitions is his way of getting inspiration for photography. The bizarre exhibitions he visited include dog exhibitions, funeral exhibitions, and so on.

 In 2016, Teryoshin visited the European Hunting Fair in Dortmund, Germany. Here, he noticed people's fascination with guns: some people love guns, some people pick up guns to play and practice "aim". After that, Teryoshin wanted to see what the real arms trade fair was like. In September of that year, he went to Kirce, Poland to participate in the largest arms trade fair in Eastern Europe.


At the exhibition, he saw that weapons such as flame guns, tanks, and drones are usually displayed at the arms exhibition, many of which are the latest models. Some manufacturers will take out the rocket launcher, let people try to simulate the feeling of launch. 

As long as the rules are followed, visitors can "play" freely, but occasionally they are blocked. If the exhibits are labeled with "no photos allowed", he will not take photos.


Military fans become excited in these "adult playgrounds." They have the opportunity to touch various weapons in person, and they can also participate in a simulated war without paying the price of their lives-because the "corpse" is just a human body model and pixels on the simulator screen. The exhibition will also stage many surreal scenes. 

Teryoshin has seen such a scene in the UAE. The organizer suddenly brought out a huge commemorative cake. People cheered. Many people began to cut cakes around bombs and explosives, and dig them with plastic spoons to eat. The scene was joyous and chaotic.


The fatal behind the elegance

Richard Gatlin, the inventor of the Gatling machine gun, once said: "If I can invent a machine gun with a fast rate of fire that allows one person in the war to complete 100 tasks, then we don’t need so much. Large weapons can also prevent more people from falling into positional warfare and disease."



In 2018, the European Defense Exhibition in Paris, France, is the world's largest exhibition of national defense and land and air equipment.


It's unclear whether this is hypnotizing yourself or others, but some arms dealers do have a similar psychology. In the process of going to the weapons exhibition many times, Teryoshin got acquainted with some arms dealers, and they would chat together. These people look no different from others, some are even handsome, humorous, and full of personal charm. For these people, as long as they can support their families, selling weapons may be no different from selling vacuum cleaners.


At the exhibition, some manufacturers slogans "Defending the Peace for 70 Years" and "Designing for Life". It sounds like arms trading has really become a matter of benefiting the people and the country. "This is similar to propaganda. They make people believe that starting a war is the result of no choice. 

In addition, in order not to make themselves feel sad, some people who produce and sell these things will choose to believe this statement." Teryoshin told China News The Weekly said.


As Herbert Marcuse pointed out in his masterpiece "One-dimensional Man" in the 1960s: "This is a customary technique in the advertising industry, which is systematically used to'shape' a tight Grasping the intent and product will help promote the image of people and products."


Instead of bloody and cruelty, the arms exhibition is such a stage-like magical place, but their boldness has also triggered resistance from ordinary people. In 2017, London, England, hosted the world's largest weapons exhibition, which triggered many peace lovers to take to the streets to protest. More than 100 people were arrested for this.



In 2020, the DefExpo-2020 weapons exhibition will be held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, northern India. India’s defense budget ranks fifth in the world, and India’s arms and military equipment market is considered to be one of the most numerous, promising and dynamic markets in the modern world.


These photos are Teryoshin's personal expressions, and they are also a tribute to the surrealist anti-war works of John Heartfield, the founder of Dadaism and photographer John Heartfield in the 20th century. The arms exhibition, the "backstage of war", has a beautiful illusion, but we must go beyond this deceptiveness and see that behind the game-like appearance, the danger of war is always a man-made, imminent time bomb.


Teryoshin used "Nothing personal, Just bussiness" (Nothing personal, Just bussiness) to describe the true appearance of the arms exhibition in his mind. He feels that the relationship between weapons and war is like the relationship between chickens and eggs, mutual cause and effect.

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