Interview with Rob Hornstra, co-author of The Sochi Project, 2009–2014.
For five years the photographer Rob Hornstra and journalist Arnold van Bruggen travelled through the Caucasus and recorded the building of the most expensive winter Olympic Games to date. To put it better: they have recorded historical, social, cultural and political “behind-the-scenes” of the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi – focusing on the regions of Sochi, Abhazia and Northern Caucasus. The result is the series of books and exhibitions, the intertwining of words and images, personal stories, historical information, political reality, violence and love. Besides postcards, leaflets and posters, Rob and Arnold created telling publications: the newspaper style »made for the wall« brochure On the Other Side of The Mountains, 2010; book Empty land, Promised land, Forbidden land, 2013; book The Secret History of Khava Gaisanova, 2013; and An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus, 2013. The Sochi project builds upon the contrast between the poorest and politically highly unstable region and the utopian spirit of the Olympic Games. Or rather, it builds upon the contrast between the Olympic Games as an expression of coexistence of nations and peace and the Olympic Games as a political propaganda project. The authors seek to answer the question why the Caucasus region is still so incredibly violent, but first and foremost they want to show the oppressive nature of official Russia’s attitude towards the region. The result is an enormous visual and textual collage, backed by personal stories, which resembles early photographic, expeditionary encyclopaedias. The authors have been forbidden access to Russia in 2013 without official reason and for an indefinite period of time.
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