Arnold van Bruggen
The Sochi Project is the resulting work of a huge project created in the five years since the announcement that Sochi would be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. It has been created by photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen. They travelled around Sochi and the North Caucasus taking photos, meeting people and collecting stories, memories and history. Their agenda is to make a comment against Putin and his willingness to make Sochi the most expensive Olympics ever. Hornstra and Bruggen collaborate to create a strong combination of text and image to highlight the issues of Sochi.
The project is split into eight chapters. I have focused on the first chapter for now. The work itself is presented on the website and embraces digital culture.
Chapter I, The Summer Capital
“Sochi is the Florida of Russia, but cheaper. It is famous for its subtropical vegetation, hotels and sanatoria. People from all over the Soviet Union associate the coastal city with beach holidays and first loves. The smell of sunscreen, sweat, alcohol and roasting meat pervades the air. Nothing happens here in the winter. But that’s about to change. The Winter Games are coming to town.”
To start with is a wide photograph of the city lit up. As you scroll down the text and images come up. In some cases this could be representing the covering up Putin is trying to do. The first post is a video introducting the project by using Putin’s speech when the Sochi Games was announced cut with contrasting text.
An example of this is Putin says “We are allocating around 12 billions dollars for this.” This then cuts to white text on a black ground saying “While in Sochi billions of dollars are being pumped into the Games, On the other side of the mountain lies Russia’s poorest region”.
The website contains a mixture of multimedia, text, image and moving image. As you scroll through there is juxtaposing imagery jumping from families at the seaside to bullets and writing about genocide. It coincides with the way Sochi is a town amongst a war zone.
There are architectural photographs, portraits and documents. One of the portraits is of a war veteran and it is accompanied by a quotation from him about a fond memory in Sochi. This is something that is directly relevant to my own project.
The stories and articles have interesting titles such as Meatballs with cream three times a day. This journalistic approach engages the viewer encouraging to read on. The first chapter focuses on Sochi as a holiday resort. In this Hornstra and Bruggen have created a detailed background of the location and then widened to incorporate current information as well as stories and quotes from holiday goers. They have also spoken to people about their thoughts on the Games, continuing to relate to the main theme.
As well as the website, the project has been exhibited in the traditional way. This included large photographs, text on the walls and screens to show the videos. It has also been made into books, card, posters and newspapers.