Just a couple of weeks before his award-winning work is supposed to appear in a major Netherlands-Russia bilateral year exhibition, Dutch photojournalist Rob Hornstra has had his application for a Russian visa denied.
Hornstra, whose “Sochi Project” with writer/filmmaker Arnold Van Bruggen paints the host country of the 2014 Winter Olympics in a less-than-favorable light, believes that this move is a result of that project.
“The Sochi Project” — part of which won Hornstra a World Press Photo award — is a four-year-long documentary project that seeks to shed light on the whole story behind the North Caucuses region where Russia is spending a record $50 billion to prepare for the upcoming Olympic games.
Sochi, if you will, is the epicenter of this project, and the entire reason it was started in the first place. The project’s intro video juxtaposes President Vladimir Putin’s acceptance of the Sochi bid with statements like “up in the mountains of the Caucasus there’s not only snow but an ongoing war against separatist rebels,” and “on the other side of the mountains lies Russia’s poorest region.”
It’s understandable, then, that Hornstra believes this is the reason behind his visa denial. The Russian government, however, has been quiet on the issue. According to RIA Novosti, Dutch officials haven’t been able to get an official response out of Russian authorities as to why the visa was denied.
For now, there’s nothing Hornstra can do but wait for a response or hope that Russian officials change their mind. But chances that he’s going to make it to that exhibition are slim… and more devastating… so are the chances that him and Van Bruggen (whose visa application is currently pending) will get to finish this project they started so long ago.
Image credit: Rob Honstra by Marieke Wijntjes.