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Sochi's Dark Side to be on Display at DePaul Art Museum

By Paul Biasco | December 19, 2013 8:23am
 "The Sochi Project" is set to open at the DePaul Art Museum Jan. 9.
The Sochi Project
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LINCOLN PARK — While the world will likely see beautiful images of Sochi during the Olympics in February, the DePaul University's art museum will be providing a glimpse into the dark corners of the Russian city and surrounding region.

To coincide with the winter Olympics, the DePaul Art Museum will host "The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus," featuring photography from the region.

"'The Sochi Project’ reveals the unseen side of a highly visible global event," said Gregory J. Harris, the curator of the exhibition. "These photos stand in stark relief with the typically glossy press images of the Olympics."

The exhibit featuring the works of photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen portrays Sochi, which they describe as a subtropical conflict zone being "at a combustible crossroads of war, tourism and history."

Hornstra and van Bruggen began documenting the area around Sochi in 2009, two years after the city was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The project was set to go on exhibit in Russia in October as part of a world tour, but both Hornstra and van Bruggen were denied visas to the country, and Moscow's Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art terminated the exhibit.

The project combines documentary storytelling and photography through various formats including photographs, videos, text and self-published books.

Sochi, which the project's creators call "the Florida of Russia," has been rapidly changing since the Olympic bid.

"The Sochi Project" documents Soviet-era relics that stand shoulder to shoulder with the glamorous hotels and clubs of the Russian Riviera.

"By 2014 the area around Sochi will have been changed beyond recognition," van Bruggen said.

The free exhibition will open at the DePaul Art Museum, 935 W. Fullerton Ave., Jan. 9 and run through March 24.

"The Sochi Project" is making its U.S. debut at DePaul, and Hornstra will hold a workshop at the museum Jan. 18 titled "Becoming an Independent Photographer: DIY Storytelling, Self-publishing, and Project Funding." The workshop from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. is $75.

After the project's debut at DePaul, the works will head to festivals in Toronto, Cincinnati, New York, Antwerp, Belgium and Salzburg, Austria.

"These beautiful evocative photos show the Sochi we won't see on TV: the faded Soviet resort city with turbulent politics and a tough economy," said Louise Lincoln, director of the DePaul Art Museum. "We come away with a deeper and more complex view of the glitz and glamor of the games."