(newyorker.com) Winter Olympics in a subtropical resort. Surrounded by conflict zones. The most expensive Games ever. This is the idea being realized in Sochi.” So begins “An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus,” a photo book, published by Aperture, by the photographer Rob Hornstra and the writer Arnold van Bruggen, the final chapter of their long-term collaboration, The Sochi Project.
The two began the project in 2009, practicing what they call “slow journalism” to unearth the untold stories of Sochi, Russia, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics. With the 2014 Games as their deadline, the pair sought to “provide a grassroots analysis of what’s going on in this region, an analysis not made by politicians and the usual talking heads, but by slowly composing a new image … by doing almost anthropological fieldwork,” van Bruggen said.
The project has been released in annual installments in a variety of formats, including photo books, newsprint “sketchbooks,” and an online interactive documentary project. “For me, storytelling is not about travelling or about telling a zillion stories,” Hornstra said. “For me, it is more about trying to really understand certain issues …. We recognize that there is not one single, simple answer. But we try to get as close as possible to the answer …. It is our ambition to tell these self-directed stories through our own self-published books. In that way we can control everything from beginning to end.”
Photographs from the book are currently on display at FotoMuseum, in Antwerp, through March 2, 2014, the first in a series of international exhibitions.
All photography by Rob Hornstra/courtesy Flatland Gallery.