Since 2009, Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen have been working to tell the story of Sochi, Russia, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. They have returned repeatedly to this region as committed practitioners of “slow journalism” and documented the area, including parts of neighboring Abkhazia—a disputed territory and one-time vacation hot spot, now riddled with conflict.
When Hornstra and van Bruggen first visited Abkhazia in 2009, they came across the seaside resort town Pitsunda. Amongst the ramshackle high-rise hotels and pine trees sat an abandoned ballroom, epitomizing the romance of decay; Hornstra photographed it. During their visit, the mayor of the town assured Hornstra and van Bruggen that the upcoming Sochi Olympics would put Abkhazia on the tourism map. In 2013, the pair revisited the area, and Hornstra rephotographed the ballroom. Hornstra’s photograph, Pitsunda, Abkhazia, 2013, shows the ballroom unchanged, despite developments in Sochi.
Rob Hornstra (born in Born, the Netherlands, 1975) is a photographer and self-publisher of slow-form documentary work. In addition to his work on The Sochi Project, he is also the founder and former artistic director of FOTODOK, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Hornstra is represented by Flatland Gallery, Amsterdam.