350MC – The Sochi Project – What Matters to Me?

by alexmasonphotography

In preparation for 350MC we had to think of things that matter to us to. Here is what I started with.

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.

Rob Hornstra by Marieke Wijntjes

Rob Hornstra is the face of The Sochi Project, a an ongoing project that started in 2009 and is due to stop in 2014. The idea of the project is to document the area and people of the Sochi resort and to witness the construction of the most expensive Olympics ever.

The reason I find this project so engaging is because there is so much information on it and it is being updated so often.  It is happening as we speak.

Hornstra uses his camera as a way of subversively letting people know the more controversial side to the story; the larger picture. Whilst one side of Sochi is often compared to Florida and 12 billion dollars are being spent their for the Olympics, on the other side of the city there is no money, poverty, wars and a massive social divide between the wealthy and the poor and this fails to get mentioned by the president Vladimir Putin in his speech after having won the bid to host.

As an outsider I start to question whether what they are doing with all of this money is morally correct. I don’t think it is. When it comes to the winter olympics in 2014 and we all watch the coverage, it is more than likely that the bad parts of the city will be excluded in every way. Why do people think it is okay to disregard what is already a massive problem? Ignoring the problems in the city could potentially make things worse especially if people start protesting etc. Priorities should be made. A lot of people on the other side of the city don’t even have fresh water and electricity.

It seems as if the government are trying to distract the public by talking about how wonderful the olympics is going to be and how it welcoming they will be to the olympians and paralympians, journalists and guests. The Sochi project is at serious risk of causing political conflict due to it’s constant subversive nature.

The website for the Sochi Project is very cleverly subversive in the fact that the information and photos put up are delicately approaching an important conflicting topics then alongside that there will be a video glorifying the amount of money that is being spent like in this screenshot below. it makes the viewer think.

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After having spent a little bit of time on this website looking through that large archive available it has made me question how the format of this work could relate to my own creative practice. I suppose what I have picked up so far is the technique of subversive story telling and although my next project is a completely different theme that doesn’t necessarily point the finger at a certain group of people I can use this project to my advantage in how to tell stories.

Hornstra photographs people in an honest way and if  for example they are people from the poor side of the city, instead of photographing them in an obvious way depicting that they are poor he will simply include them in the archive almost to say ‘what about these guys? what about these people?’ Again being subversive. It seems as if he tells peoples stories without expectation and focusses on the forgotten people during the build up for the winter olympics.