Rob Hornstra


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 is 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.


ROB HORNSTRA is a documentary photographer. Since he graduated he has worked predominantly on long-term projects, both at home and on the other side of the world. His work is characterised by a stylised rawness, with a large dose of intrinsic engagement. He has published five books on his own (Empty Land Promised Land Forbidden Land, On the Other Side of the Mountains, 101 Billionaires, Roots of the Rúntur, Communism & Cowgirls) which, despite increasing print runs, sell out even faster. He has been commissioned by international magazines to produce documentary series. He has also taken part in numerous (solo) exhibitions in the Netherlands and abroad, in addition to his own work as a documentary maker.  Rob is based in the Netherlands and is represented by the INSTITUTE for Artist Management.

To find out more about Rob’s work visit The Sochi Project and his website.