Rob Hornstra along with writer and filmmaker, Arnold Van Bruggen co-founded the Sochi Project, a long-term project that centered around this changing region. From 2009 to 2014, the duo repeatedly returned to Sochi, a popular holiday spot near the Black Sea in Russia.
Both Hornstra and Van Bruggen, practitioners of slow journalism, have through their work tried to build a strong foundation of research through visual documentation. The idea being, to engage with this complicated region before the Winter Olympics in 2014 would engulf it with a different sort of attention. The manner in which The Sochi Project is presented attempts to eradicate the aesthetics of photography. “It had to be about the content and the story,” explains Hornstra. What the pair really wanted to draw attention to was the contrast of the grand Olympic preparations to stories about poverty and insecurity. “What is really going on and which ‘TV-reality’ should be avoided,” as Van Bruggen puts it.
Van Bruggen wrote, “Never before have the Olympic Games been held in a region that contrasts more strongly with the glamour of the Games than Sochi. Just twenty kilometers away is the conflict zone Abkhazia. To the east, the Caucasus Mountains stretch into obscure and impoverished breakaway republics such as North Ossetia and Chechnya. On the coast, old Soviet-era sanatoria stand shoulder to shoulder with the most expensive hotels and clubs of the Russian Riviera.”
Hornstra’s photographic approach is one that combined documentary storytelling with contemporary portraiture, found photographs, and other visual elements found during the course of their travels.
Read more on The Sochi Project here: www.thesochiproject.org
Rob Hornstra talking about The Sochi Project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0ezab8k2Ds
Born in 1975, Rob Hornstra is a Dutch photographer and self-publisher of slow-form documentary work. He completed a course in Social and Legal Services from the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences in 1998. He has had numerous solo and group exhibitions. Communism and Cowgirls, 101 Billionaires and Changing Faces: Work 1 are only a few of his publications. The Sochi Project has won a number of awards like the first prize under Stories, Art and Entertainment of the World Press Photo Awards, 2012 and the Magnum Expression Awards. Hornstra is represented by Flatland Gallery, Utrecht.
The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus is part of this exhibitions line-up of this edition of the Delhi Photo Festival opening on October 30 at the IGNCA, Delhi.