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The central themes that I investigate through my practice are strongly influenced by my background: I was born in Russia (then the Soviet Union), and grew up in France, after moving west with my family at the age of 9, at the start of the 1990s. Spending my formative years on one side of the former Cold War divide, with my roots in the other, I was aware from an early age of the many expressions of otherness, but also of a human quality shared across divides. Growing up as an outsider, the quest for a common ground is a permanent fixture of life, as is the question of where home is — and whether it actually exists.
Despite the uneasy qualities of the themes I explore in my work, I remain a cautious optimist: I believe in the possibility for a common ground to be found and brought into the spotlight. In an era of increased global trend towards xenophobia and isolationism, it feels only right to produce work that showcases a humanity that transcends geographical, ethnic, and political divides. In doing so, I hope to nudge viewers towards reflecting on the prevalent narratives of adversity and solitude.
By affirming this idea of a universal underlying human nature, my practice follows steadily in the humanist photographic tradition of the 20th century, tracing its roots to The Family of Man exhibition, Diane Arbus’s portraiture work, and, more recently, the work of artists such as Luo Yang (“Girls”) or Richard Renaldi (“Touching Strangers”).
Similarly to these artists, my technical process is minimalist and non-manipulated: I work with straightforward techniques, photographing my subjects straight on, in the available light (with minimal artificial light when necessary) of their natural environments. Everyday life, with its real, lived-in spaces, is more theatrical and poetic to me than the most elaborate studio setup.
I spent the summer of 2018 in Beijing, interviewing and photographing Chinese citizens who had spent a few years abroad before returning to live in China. The people I spoke with — mostly young adults — came back to a country that’s experiencing transformative growth that mirrors the one in their own lives. They often grew up in smaller provincial cities, but their experience abroad has catapulted them into an elite, as major Chinese and international companies vie with each other to employ them, giving them opportunities that are out of reach for the vast majority. Although they are by all accounts successful, these Returnees are still finding their way forward, trying to reconcile their new careers, their experiences abroad, and the social and family expectations that come with the reality of coming back home.
The picture presented here — one of the few in the series that isn’t a portrait — was taken from one of my interviewees’ living room, and symbolises the tension that exists between the private and the public, and the difficulty with aligning evolving personal truths with the external expectations that the Returnees face daily.
Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko (b. 1982, Moscow) is a portrait and documentary photographer based in London.
He grew up in Paris, he spent 6 years in Japan before relocating to London in 2017 to pursue an MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art. His cross-cultural background informs much of his work, which focuses on people as well as notions of home, foreignness, and the common ground, and seeks to explore and a shared humanity that transcends national, economical, and cultural borders.
Tcherednitchenko’s work has been exhibited, among others, in a group show at Gallery Niépce in Tokyo and in various shows across the RCA. He has also appeared in numerous publications, and his work is held in private collections worldwide.