Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Sochi Project - a unique and rewarding collaboration

Rob Hornstra is a quietly spoken yet fiercely determined Dutch photographer whom I've had the pleasure of getting to know on my many trips to Europe. I like Rob and I admire and respect his work. The Sochi Project is a collaboration between Rob and writer, film maker Arnold Van Bruggen. They says this about the project.

In 2014, the Olympic Games will take place in Sochi, Russia. Never before have the Olympic Games been held in a region that contrasts more strongly with the glamour of the Games than Sochi. Just 20 kilometres away is the conflict zone Abkhazia. To the east the Caucasus Mountains stretch into obscure and impoverished breakaway republics such as Cherkessia, North Ossetia and Chechnya. On the coast old Soviet sanatoria stand shoulder to shoulder with the most expensive hotels and clubs of the Russian Riviera.

Between now and 2014 the area around Sochi will change beyond recognition. The extreme makeover is already underway; refugee flats and poverty-stricken resorts are disappearing at high speed from the partly fashionable, partly impoverished seaside resort of Sochi. Thousands of labourers from across Russia and abroad live in prefab accommodation in order to have the stadiums, hotels and modern infrastructure finished on time. Helicopters fly backwards and forwards with building materials. The economic crisis is glossed over as much as possible.

Photographer Rob Hornstra and writer/filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen plan to document the changes in the area around Sochi over the coming five years. The Sochi Project will be a dynamic mix of documentary photography, film and reportage about a world in flux; a world full of different realities within a small but extraordinary geographic area.

Kummer and Herrman is a Utrecht based design company which has played an important  pivotal role in the development of The Sochi Project. There is an interview with Jeroen Kummer on the blog the logging road HERE, which opens up a discussion on the benefits of collaboration and the need for establishing a strong design position.

Jeroen says - What is remarkable about The Sochi Project, and what makes a long-term project like this significant, is its journalistic value. It is both a photo documentary and a journalistic work-in-progress. In the choices we made we took both aspects into account: how to write a narrative history with text and images.
The concept of The Sochi Project is outstanding, and as such distinctive from many other documentaries. The decision alone, to start a long-term documentary, and collaboration for a five-year period, and tempting to invoke spin-offs, is unusual. It is remarkable that from the very start Rob and Arnold had the intention to collaborate together with our office, Kummer & Herrman, for five years, the full term. 

You can go to The Sochi Project website HERE.

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