The Sochi Project
Photographs by Rob Hornstra
Texts by Arnold van Bruggen

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, a contemporary masterpiece of photography and journalism in the collaborative tradition of James Agee and Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor.

Text by Aperture Foundation, New York

The Sochi Project was cofounded by Rob Hornstra (born in Borne, The Netherlands, 1975) and Arnold van Bruggen (born in Texel, The Netherlands, 1979), in association with the design team Kummer & Herrman. In July 2013, Hornstra & Van Bruggen were denied entrance to Russia, for unnamed reasons and for an unspecified period of time.

Rob Hornstra is a photographer and self-publisher of slow-form documentary work. He is also the founder and former artistic director of FOTODOK―Space for Documentary Photography. Hornstra is represented by Flatland Gallery, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Arnold van Bruggen (texts) is a writer and filmmaker, and founder of the journalistic production agency Prospektor, and a cofounder, with Hornstra, of the Sochi Project. Various elements of the Sochi Project have garnered awards, including the Canon Prize for innovative photojournalism in 2010; the Magnum Expression Award in 2011; the Sony World Photography Award (Arts & Culture category) in 2012; and the World Press Photo award for Arts & Entertainment Stories in 2012.

Thanks to all the translators, researchers and fixers who helped us before, during and after our travels. Their work has been of tremendous value for us. Thanks to Sara Kolster for advice on this website, and many thanks for the more than flexible and smooth English translations by Cecily Layzell. Fantastic work has been done by Svetlana Mikhaylenko, who translated this entire project into Russian.

This website has been made possible with generous gifts by Stichting Democratie en Media.

In the past years the following funds sponsored our trips or publications: Mondriaan Fund, Stichting Sem Presser Archief, Fonds Bijzondere Journalistieke Projecten, Dutch Culture and Postcode Loterijfonds voor journalisten.

The Sochi Project has been largely crowdfunded by more than 650 private donators over the year 2009-2013. With individual yearly donations between €10 and €1500 they have made this project possible. We thank all of them:

Wim Aalbers
Wim Aardenburg
Ralph Aarnout
Johannes Abeling
Antoine Achten
David K. Adams
Liesbeth van Aerssen
Sander Agterhuis
Paul van Akkeren
Floris Akkerman
Jeroen Akkermans
Kirsten Algera
Yulan van Alphen
Johannes Amm
Roland Angst
Brechje Asselbergs
Jessica Auer
Neville Austin
Nico Baldauf
Inga Lára Baldvinsdottir
Harry Barkema
Peter Bartak
Saskia Barth
Eugenijus Barzdzius
Det Bazelmans
Stefan Becker
Nathalie Belayche
Valentino Bellini
Rainer Berg
Danielle van Berkel
Joost M. Beunderman
Mark Beunderman
Saskia van Beveren
Frederiek Biemans
Marc Bierings
Jes van der Bijl
Leontine Bijman
Michel Angelo Binsbergen
Eefje Blankevoort
Victor Blankevoort
Elgin Blankwater
Niels Blekemolen
Jelle Bloem
Jan Willem Bloemendaal
Kees Boef
Roos Boer
Maarten Boerma
Boudewijn Bollmann
Tjitske Boogmans
Flip Bool
Lex Boon
Kris Borgerink
Chloe Borkett
Willem van Borselen
Jack Bos
Maarten Boswijk
Nicolaas Bot
Gerwin Botterhuis
Els Bovenberg
Allan Bovill
Enda Bowe
Valentijn Brandt
Laura Bras
Patrick Bras
Karel de Bree
Jacco Brink
Corine van den Broek
Marca van den Broek
Gerard Broersen
Steve Brown
Guido Bruggeman
Anke van Bruggen
Erik van Bruggen
Janny & Popke van Bruggen
Roderick Buijs
Irma Bulkens
Lynton J. Bullen
Heleen Bulthuis
Tessa Bunney
Simon Burer
Melchior Bussink
Alfonso Calero
Romelia Calin
David Campbell
Stefan Canham
Theo Captein
Nelson Chan
Jasmin Chang
Francesco Chiericoni
David Christensen
Sally Clark
Chris Clement
Toon de Clerck
Luc Coffeng
Joerg Colberg
Rutger Colenbrander
Justin Collins
Giorgio Comai
Jeannette Cornelisse
Joelle Cornuz
Simon de la Court
L.J.A.D. Creyghton
Alexander van de Cruijs
Agnese Da Col
Benno van Daalen
Wiktor Dabkowski
Nelson Daires
Alessandro Dandini de Sylva
Dieter Danzer
Adrian Davies
Laura De Marco
Debras Debras
Maartje Degenaar
Dorothee Deiss
Peter M. Dekens
Els Dekker
Hans Dekker
Julie Del Piero
Helga Dichte
Andrea Diefenbach
Jaap Dijks
Emilio D’Itri
Martin Dixon
Stichting Doel Zonder Naam
Carola van Dongen de Boer
Thomas Donker
Ivan Donovan
Bryan Dooley
Albert Doorenbos
Louis S. Dowse
Carolyn Drake
Michiel Driebergen
Jochem Driest
Lodewijk Duijvesteijn
Derk Duit
Marc Duponcel
Thomas Dworzak
Tom Dziomba
Chris Ecclestone
Simen Edvardsen
Janus van den Eijnden
Simone van Eik
Anna Eikelboom
Jan Pieter Ekker
Simon Eliasson
Hanna Emmering
Frank van den Engel
Simone van Engelen
Michael Ensdorf
Leo Erken
Peter Evans
Nicole Ex Asselbergs
Sarah Eyre
Remi Faucheux
Federico Ferrari
Silva Ferretti
Olivier Fierens
Richard Fieten
Jonas Fischer
Judith Fischer
Eva Flendrie
Peter Flik
Regina Fluyt
Jan Willem Folkers
Joeri Folman
Markus Franke
Klaas Fris
McKenzie Funk
Esther Gaarlandt
Francoise Gaarlandt Kist
Thijs Gadiot
FreeLens Galerie
Isabel Garces
Dirk Gebhardt
Marijke Geelen Borker
Coen Geertsema
Jan van Gemert
Christo Geoghegan
Catharina Gerritsen
Bertus Gerssen
Carlo Gianferro
Heidi de Gier
Frits Gierstberg
Jasper Gilijamse
Roos Gils
Sebastien Girard
Mariette Glas
Albers Jan Glerum
Tino Glimmann
Lia Goldman
Otto Gooiker
John Gossage
Ingo Gotz
Annemarie Graft
Ian Graham
Emiliano Granado
Peter Granser
Stefanie Gratz
Simone de Greef
Hans Gremmen
Henk Greven
Jasper Groen
Johanna Groen
Martijn Groeneveld
Carla de Groot
Cocky de Groot
Inge de Groot
Sam de Groot
Feyoena Grovestins
Peter Guettler
Anke van Haarlem
Anne Haenni
Mieke Hageman
Arjan van Hal
Barbara Hanlo
Ingrid Harms
Gregory Harris
Neil Harrison
Egbert Hartman
Hans Ueli Hasler
Frans van Hasselt
Maarten van Heems
Mieke Heeringa
Michel Heesen
Maxim Heijndijk
Chantal Heijnen
Kysia Hekster
Wardie Hellendoorn
Mark Henderson
Hans Hendriks
Marlene Herkemij
Michael Hermse
Arthur Herrman
Paul Herrmann
Pauke van den Heuvel
Lorelei Heyligers
Marloes Hiethaar
Richard Higginbottom
Wieke Hoeke
Jorrit ‘t Hoen
Paul ‘t Hoen
Benjamin Hoewler
Eva Hofman
Jeroen Hofman
Emile Holba
Bert van Hoogenhuyze
Korrie Hopstaken
Joop Hopster
Jonas Hornstra
Joost en Joke Hornstra
Luc Hornstra
Maarten Hornstra
Tom Hornstra
Alexa ter Horst
Max Houghton
Laurien ten Houten
Marjan Hoving
Ewout Huibers
Elisabeth van ‘t Hull Vermaas
Eelco van Hulsen
Michiel Hulshof
Fred Icke
Tarek Issaoui
Mieke Jansen
Juliette Janssen
Lucia Janssen
Tom Janssen
Els Jekel
Michael Jellema
Fred Jelsma
Will Jenkins
Fanny Jol
Cornelie de Jong
Ralf de Jong
Mayke Jongsma
Stephan Jourdan
Antie en Jan Kaan
Tomas Kaan
Roy Kahmann
Karijn Kakebeeke
Felix Kalkman
Manja Kamman
Lizette van der Kamp
Hennie Kamphuis
Alke Kamstra
Emile Kelly
Dimiter Kenarov
Dolph Kessler
Vivian Keulards
Sophie Keurentjes
Robin Klaassen
Erik Klappe
Martijn Kleppe
Freya de Klerk
Anneke Kloostra
Jessica Knights
Kim Knoppers
Talmon Kochheim
Ria Kock
Olaf Koens
Helena de Kok
Stefan Kolgen
Dirk Kome
Suzanne Koopmans
Derin Korman
Christian Kosfeld
Meike Koster
Paul Kouwenberg
Ben Krewinkel
Erik Kroes
Lars Krueger
Jan Kruidhof
Annelies Kuiper
Sybren Kuiper
Jeroen Kummer
Tom Lagerberg
Martijn Lambarts
Raoul de Lange
Margaret Lansink
Pierre Le Gallo
Rindert W. Leegsma
Theo Willem van Leeuwen
Aernout Leezenberg
Alexandre Lefevre
Percy B. Lehning
Oscar Leker
Matthew Lemon
Beate Lendt
Dick van Lente
Andra Leurdijk
Carolyn Levisson
Natascha Libbert
Jann Liebert
Baptiste Lignel
Geisje van der Linden
Christine Lindo
Johan Linssen
Sjoerd Litjens
Dunja Logozar
Emmy Lokin Piscaer
Alma Loos
Hans Loos
Marijke Louppen
Ron Louwerse
Allard Luchsinger
Menno Luitjes
Celina Lunsford
Femke M. Lutgerink
Michael van Maanen
Gordon MacDonald
Igor Malashenko
Henrik M. Malmstrom
Paul Malschaert
Rense Mandema
Michael Marten
Jack Martin
Lesley Martin
Uwe H. Martin
Francesca Masarie
Anton Maurer
Russ McClintock
Michael Mccraw
Carol McKay
Harminke Medendorp
Andre van der Meer
Kristin J. Metho
Andrea Meuzelaar
Gustavo Miotti
William Mitchell
Jo Mockers
C.F. van der Molen
Henny Molenaar
Davide Monteleone
Giovanni Monti
Vittorio Mortarotti
Fotolab MPP
Gerda Mulder
Andreas Nader
Joachim Naudts
Patricia Nauta
Ben & Carien Neggers
Simon Neggers
Herbert Nelissen
Esther van Nes
Dieter Neubert
Jose Luis Neves
Floor Nicolas
Pepijn Nicolas
Pipo Nicolas
Leonie van Nierop
Marieke Nijhof
Bart Nijkamp
Alette Nijland
Michiel Nijland
Bram Nijssen
Corinne Noordenbos
Job Noordhof
Koni Nordmann
Daniel J. Norwood
Kenneth o Halloran
Laura Obdeijn
Giuseppe Olivieri
Hilje Oosterbaan Martinius
Jan Oosterman
Mieke Oostwoud
Henk Otte
Katrien Otten
Jetteke Ottevanger
Floris van Overveld
Ilker Ozdemir
Johannes Paar
Lodewijk van Paddenburgh
Emiliano Paoletti
Martin Parr
Nell Pastors
Lisette van de Pavoordt
Douglas Penn
Vanessa Penn
Henk Penseel
Sanne Peper
Steve Pepper
Marcus Peters
Anna Pfautsch
Andrew Phelps
Joao Pico
Cock Pleijsier
Rik Plomp
David Plummer
Astrid Pollers
Jan Postma
Corey Presha
Tom Price
Max Prooy
Jeppe van Pruissen
Mireille de Putter
Martin Pyper
Pierre Yves Racine
Ingvar Hogni Ragnarsson
Rianne Randeraad
Marco Rapaccini
Benjamin Rasmussen
Monique van Ravenstein
Katrien Raymaekers
Elsje van Ree
Eduard Rekker
Jukka Reverberi
Ramon Reverte
Masco Liza de Rijk
Wilfred Roelink
Mike Roelofs
Laura van Roessel
Loek van Roessel
Martin Rogers
Heidi Romano
Peter Rommens
Johannes Romppanen
Jacqueline de Rooij
Hans Roos
Sascha Roosdorp
Tijmen Rooseboom
Lex van Rootselaar
Pieter Roozenboom
Jewgeni Roppel
Jeanette van Rotterdam
Carsten and Sophie Roualt and Rummel
Frank de Ruiter
Rixt Runia
Jacobien Rutgers
Erik Ruts
Dominique Sanchez
Alexander S. Sauer
Famke Schaap
David Schalliol
Jaap Scheeren
Pieter van Scherpenberg
Hannah Schildt
Patrizia Schiozzi
Addie Schiphorst
Preuper Marike Schipper
Samuel Schliske
Nils Schmeling
Ralph Schmitz
Oliver Schneider
Andreas Schoening
Meindert Scholma
Soeren Schuhmacher
Gerrit Schurer
Hendrik Schwantes
Terri Schwartz
Hannah Schwarzbach
Roel Segerink
Dion Setyotomo
Fabio Severo
Geert Job Sevink
Jeroen Seydel
Patrick Sijben
Iris Sikking
Teresa Silva
Katja Sinnema
Fransje Sjenitzer
Anna Skladmann
Johan Slager
Bart Sleegers
Geert Slot
Robin Sluijs
Rob en Eva Sluys
Merlijn Smeele
Monique Smeets
Monique Smit
Joshua Joshua Smith
Lui Smyth
Hans Snellen
Frans Soeterbroek
Baato Soort
Peter Sorantin
Milena Spaan
Frieda Spanjersberg
Robert Specken
Sander Spek
Guido van Spellen
Sven Speybrouck
Marijn Staal
Michiel Stadhouders
Hans Stakelbeek
Petra Stavast
Bonnie Steenman
Conny Steenman
Jolien Steenman
Joop Steenman
Lorette Steenman
Jana Steffen
Roeland Stekelenburg
Anoek Steketee
Kitty Steketee
Truus Stevens
Alain Stoeckli
Glen Stoker
David Strettel
Margreet Strijbosch
Philip Stroomberg
Rik Suermondt
Evgenia Sveshinsky
Ton Sweep
Marlies Swinkels
Victor Taylor
Anne Tegelaar
Florens Tegelaar
Margriet Teunissen
Bjoern Theye
Mirelle Thijsen
Mandy Thomas
Marianne Timmer
Bas Timmers
Giovanni Toccafondi
Chiara Tocci
Jeroen Toirkens
Reinier Treur
Piero Turk
Robert van Ancum
Serge Van Cauwenbergh
Nele Van den Berghe
Pieter van der Straaten
Jerry van der Weert
Pieter Bas van Wiechen
Jan Vandemoortele
Anneke van Veen
Christiaan van Veen
Evelien Vehof
Hanneke van Velzen
Maaike Vergouwe
Mia Verhagen
Lucas Verheij
Ralf Verhoef
Kirsten Verpaalen
C.M.E. Versteeg
Henny Verstege
Danny Veys
Marieke Viergever
Giedre Virbalaite
Jon Vismans
Dirk-Jan Visser
Ellen Visser
Geert Vlastuin
Khio van der Vleuten
Henkjan van Vliet
Elise Volker
Jurryt van de Vooren
Tom Voorma
Zelda de Vries
Tanya Vriesman
Bas Vroege
David Vroom
Martijn de Waal
Theo de Waal
Gijsbert van der Wal
Jan van Walsem
Brendan Walsh
Rob Wandelee
Rolf Weijburg
Theijs van Welij
Hans van de Wetering
Rob Wetzer
Oliver Whitehead
Michael Wichita
Thomas Wiegand
Mick van de Wiel
Thomas Wieland
Friso Wiersum
Kitty Wigleven
Guido de Wildt
Andrea Wilkinson
Yannik Willing
Lars Willumeit
Goof van de Winkel
Marijke Winnubst
Jan Willem Wirtz
Peter van de Witte
Marieke ten Wolde
Stephen Wooldridge
Valentin Wormbs
Raimond Wouda
Marco Woyczikowski
Steffi Wurster
Natalie Wynants
Peter Yankowski Walker
Lap Ming Yeung
Maud van der Zant
Iris van der Zee
Antonia Zennaro
Elza Zijlstra
Damian Zimmermann
Isabell Zipfel
Wytze v.d. Zweep