Since 2014, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has reported that Zuhhai is the “most liveable city” in China. Located in the south of the country, it’s a surprisingly lush and green environment in comparison with the smog-filled streets of the more famous Beijing or Shanghai. Documentary photographer Nikita Teryoshin’s series Ahoi from Zhuhai, however, focusses its lens away from scenery and, instead, on the people who inhabit the city, capturing myriad strange and fortuitous moments from a week-long trip.
Nikita found himself in the city – one that is little known outside of China – when visiting to document the China Airshow 2018 as part of his ongoing personal work Nothing Personal. Having not heard of Zhuhai before visiting, he found himself somewhat lost, unable to speak with locals, and so used his camera to explore the area. “Unfortunately I only had a visa for one week, the duration of the trade fair, so I tried to take pictures of the everyday life between the fair visits,” he tells us.
The resulting pictures are true to Nikita’s signature style, which we’ve long been fans of. Tights crops, high-flash and full colour produce unexpected compositions that skew the world and hint at a bigger picture. They, in turn, reflect the whirlwind that was the photographer’s experience of the area.
“I arrived on a ferry from Hong Kong and first of all, there were no standard apps like Uber or Google Maps, which help you to get from A to B in a foreign country. Even at the hotel, it was very difficult to speak English,” he recalls. “On the next day, I found myself in a full bus with Chinese media people going to the fair for the media day.” Among the pandemonium of that bus ride, he began shooting everything he saw, fascinated by his new surroundings. “Back in Germany, I had a feeling of having some postcards from the so-called Chinese Riviera on my hard drive to show to my friends.”
In one particularly memorable moment from the trip, Nikita found himself in a Korean restaurant “after days of searching for something vegetarian to eat”. “All the visitors gave me a warm welcome and, after I told them that I’m Russian, an older man listed in a pretty good Russian all days of the week from Monday to Sunday. He seemed to work in the USSR back in the 60s. That was really amazing and unexpected to hear my native language after days trying to survive with English.” Upon reflection, Ahoi from Zhuhai mirrors this experience; the confusion and culture shock of finding yourself in a foreign land, peppered with moments of joy, the product of connection and conversation with strangers.
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