Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Sochi Project - Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen, the fine art of collaboration

Rob Hornstra - Kodori, Abkhazia, 2009
Point 15 in my previous post itemises collaboration, a strategy that I've discovered returns the most unexpected rewards. The ultimate collaboration in my view is that of photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen. And add to that the finesse and vision of Utrecht based designers Kummer & Herrman.

Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen have been working together since 2007 to tell the story of Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. They have returned repeatedly to this region as committed practitioners of “slow journalism,” establishing a solid foundation of research on and engagement with this small yet incredibly complicated region before it finds itself in the glare of international media attention. As van Bruggen writes,
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. By 2014 the area around Sochi will have been changed beyond recognition.
Hornstra’s photographic approach combines the best of documentary storytelling with contemporary portraiture, found photographs, and other visual elements collected over the course of their travels. Van Bruggen contributes a series of engaging stories about the people, the land, and its turbulent history. Together, the images and texts unpack the complex, multivalent story of this contested region, shining a harsh light on Vladimir Putin’s claim that, “The Olympic family is going to feel at home in Sochi.” Designed by long-standing collaborators Kummer & Herrman, The Sochi Project book, website and exhibition: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus is the culmination of this five year project.

There is an in-depth interview with Rob Hornstra in DAZED, HERE, it backgrounds the story of how Russian authorities rejected Hornstra's visa application and have barred him from entering the country for the next five years.

And you can go to The Sochi Project site HERE, for a complete overview of the project in text, images and video clips.

You can also obtain a copy of The Sochi Project - An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus, published November 2013, by aperture, HERE.

Rob Hornstra - Adler, Sochi region, Russia 2011

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