Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land, by Rob Hornstra

The Sochi project was initiated five years ago by the photographer Rob Hornstra and the writer and fi lm director Arnold van Bruggen to describe and document the Abkhaz region, situated between the Black Sea and the Caucasus mountains. Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in 2008 after a short and violent civil war, and was formally recognized as an independent state by Russia.

In 2014, the Winter Olympic Games will be held at Sochi. This prospect heralds numerous changes both in the region’s economic organization and in its landscape. The marks of poverty generated by war and successive exoduses, then stigmatized by the economic crisis, ought to disappear by then...

The past history of this once-luxurious holiday resort, with its mild climate and a prevalence of mountainous and rural areas, makes this little-known region a land of rich contrasts.

Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land (EL, PL, FL) is a new chapter in this long journalistic work - which will continue until the advent of the Games. The format and thickness of the book, alternating photographs and text, give it a strong documentary character, and the sense of an open and dynamic working process.

It is a sign of the times that the Sochi project is made possible thanks to private donations. This new approach to funding seems entirely pertinent to our era, where reviews and magazines no longer have the resources to produce such long and costly projects. It is also, very importantly, a means whereby authors can maintain their commitment and editorial independence.

–Benoît Fougeirol


Rob Hornstra Rob Hornstra

Rob Hornstra         Rob Hornstra


Rob Hornstra

All photographs © From Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land by Rob Hornstra & Arnold van Bruggen

Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land, by Rob Hornstra & Arnold van Bruggen, The Sochi Project, 49€