About Borotov Photography

Rob Hornstra (born 14 March 1975, The Netherlands) is a Dutch photographer and self-publisher of documentary work, particularly of areas of the former Soviet Union.

Rob Hornstra studied Social and Legal Services at the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences from 1994 to 1998; for a year from summer 1996 he interned and then worked as a probation officer. From September 1998 he worked for over eight years as a host and bartender at Muziekcentrum Vredenburg (Utrecht). From 1999 to 2004 he studied photographic design at Utrecht School of the Arts.

Since graduation Hornstra has combined editorial work for newspapers and magazines with more personal, longer-term documentary work in the Netherlands, Iceland, and the former Soviet Union. Hornstra considers himself a maker of photographic documentaries rather than a photographer; when not photographing for a particular purpose, he does not carry a camera. Further, he sees books as more important than exhibitions, and regards his own editing, publication and marketing of books of his photography as an important part of his work.

In 2006, together with the art historian Femke Lutgerink, Hornstra started work on Fotodok, an Utrecht-based organization that arranges exhibitions and other events for documentary photography. Itself inspired by Galerie Fotohof inSalzburg, Fotodok hopes eventually to create an exhibition space for documentary photography in Utrecht. Fotodok was launched in 2008; Hornstra stepped down as creative director in September 2009.

Starting with his first collection, Communism and Cowgirls, Hornstra has published his own books. These skip forewords by other writers, biographical notes, ISBNs and the other trappings of conventionally published books; by taking advance orders and selling copies directly and also working through a small number of retailers, Hornstra is able to avoid normal distribution channels.

Together with the writer and filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen, in 2009 Hornstra started the Sochi Project, which over five years would document the area of Sochi (Krasnodar Krai, Russia) and the changes to it during the preparation for the2014 Winter Olympics. Hornstra and Van Bruggen express surprise at the choice of a place so close to politically volatile areas such as Abkhazia and one that by Russian standards has exceptionally mild winters as the site for such a large winter event. Under the slogan slow journalism, the pair request donations from the public for the crowdfunding of a project whose scale is impossible for the mass media.

Hornstra is represented by Flatland Gallery (Utrecht and Paris).

Publications by Hornstra

Communism and Cowgirls. Self-published, 2004. On the new, post-Soviet generation of Russians.

Roots of the Rúntur. Rit Thjódhminjasafns Íslands, 10. Reykjavík: Thjódhminjasafn Íslands, 2006. Photography by Rob Hornstra, text by Rob Hornstra and Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson.(English)(Dutch) About what were previously fishing communities in Iceland. (Rúntur, literally "round tour", and elsewhere a pub crawl or a drive around a circular course or even repeatedly around a single block, here means a repeated drive around the perimeter road of a village.)

101 Billionaires. Utrecht: Borotov Photography, 2008. With text by Hans Loos and Arnold van Bruggen. (English) The title derives from the assertion in the Russian magazine Finans that Russia then had 101 (US dollar) billionaires. However, the book depicts not these Russians but rather those who were "forgotten by capitalism". The book was nominated for the New York Photo Awards 2009 and listed among Photo-Eye's best ten photobooks for 2008.

101 Billionaires, 2nd edition. Utrecht: Borotov Photography, 2009. (English) A cheaper edition (no gatefolds) with slightly updated text, whose publication was prompted by the news that the number of billionaires had plummeted to 49. Referred to by Hornstra and in reviews and notices as the 2009 Crisis Edition.

Sanatorium. N.p.: The Sochi Project, 2009. Photography by Hornstra, text by Arnold van Bruggen. (Here at issuu.com.) The first of a series of annual publications from the Sochi Project, this booklet is about Sanatorium Metallurg at Sochi, which, like the other Soviet-erasanatoria in the area, is likely to be demolished and replaced with an expensive hotel in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sanatoriumwon the "Photographic Book" category of the New York Photo Awards in 2010.

Empty Land Promised Land Forbidden Land. N.p.: The Sochi Project, 2010. (English)Photography by Hornstra, text by Arnold van Bruggen. (Here at issuu.com.) This 271-page book is the second in the series of annual publications of the Sochi Project. A portrait of Abkhazia, and of Abkhazians and Georgians exiled from Abkhazia. The book was listed among Photo-Eye's best photobooks for 2010.

On the Other Side of the Mountains. N.p.: The Sochi Project, 2010. (English) Photography by Hornstra, text by Arnold van Bruggen. A photograph album on newsprint (tabloid format) about the village of Krasny Vostok, in Karachay–Cherkessia. On p. 63 appear instructions on how to arrange pp. 3–62 of two copies into an exhibition, as was done during the 2010 European Month of Photography. Hornstra and Van Bruggen chose Krasny Vostok, on the other side of the mountains from Sochi, because nothing unusual happens there.

Safety First. Sketchbook Series. N.p.: The Sochi Project, 2011. (English) Photography by Hornstra, text by Arnold van Bruggen. Photographs of Grozny, damaged by an X-ray scanner in Grozny.

Sochi Singers. N.p.: The Sochi Project, 2011. (English) Photography by Hornstra, text by Arnold van Bruggen. Singers performingchansons/popsa in the restaurants of Sochi and nearby resorts.

Life Here is Serious. Sketchbook Series. N.p.: The Sochi Project, 2012. (English) Photography by Hornstra, text by Arnold van Bruggen. Photographs of young wrestlers in Dagestan and Chechnya.

KIEV. Sketchbook Series. N.p.: The Sochi Project, 2012. (English) Photography and short text by Hornstra. Photographs of Sochi and its area, taken with a KIEV6S camera.

The Secret History of Khava Gaisanova: And the North Caucasus. N.p.: The Sochi Project, 2013. (English) Photography by Hornstra, text by Arnold van Bruggen.


New York Photobook Award, 2010 (Sanatorium)
Canon Prize for innovative photojournalism, 2011 (On the Other Side of the Mountains)

Magnum Expression Award, 2011 (Safety First)
Winner World Press Photo - Arts & Entertainment Stories, 2012 (Sochi Singers)
Winner Sony World Photography Awards - Arts & Culture, 2012 (Sochi Singers)