Rob Hornstra – DIY Notetaking

Rob Hornstra was at ‘Centrespace @ the Chocolate Factory’, Bristol 10/02/17
 
‘The Olympic family is going to feel at home in Sochi.’ Vladimir Putin 2007. (Guatemala) 
 
Thank you very much for the introduction. 
I decided to … of the Sochi project 
It’s the biggest one. 
I like to work. 
Its slow journalism, I very much like to DIY… newspapers, magazines… 
It’s a 5-year project, we started in 2009. 
I focus on four stories. 
In started in 2007 when Putin… 
He did a speech in English, which is amazing as he never speaks in English. 
We thought it would interesting to map the area. 
No one knew it was in Russia. 
They thought it was in Japan. (laugh) 
We started crowdfunding. 
We connected it to free journalism. 
…are you willing to help us? 
We were inspired by Barak Obama. 
You had to do something to get stories. 
Nothing is free. 
In the end we got twenty-two thousand a year to do the project… 
It gave us the opportunity to work independently. 
We wanted to have a storytelling website to make the work accessible. 
Sochi is the only sub-tropical place in Russia… 
Sochi is all tourism, Russian tourism. 
That’s what we covered in the first year. 
The North Caucuses… 
…this is where all the terrorists come from. 
We wanted to understand this… 
Ok… there’s also a mentality change going on there. 
Treatments in the morning. 
We make something up as there was nothing wrong with us. 
They put clay on your back. 
Whatever! 
In the end we made a story about the sanatoriums and now they are all 5-star hotels. 
It’s chasing cattle or sheeps. 
Then we were kicked out of there. 
There was a harvest festival. 
Kids were dressed up as cucumbers. 
Then we were not allowed to make photographs. 
It’s a typical story about a Russian village. 
We’re trying to invent new ways to connect. 
People were taking more newspapers to make their own exhibition. 
I don’t care about image rights, I care about the story. 
 
Here’s another story ‘Abkhazia’… 
Actually nothing had changed, so that gave us permission to do the re-print. 
We wanted to make a multi-layered story about Sochi, but we couldn’t find a second layer. 
I proposed to do something with the singers. 
We don’t know this culture. 
When I came home I’d used a very bright flash. 
…they want to be modern, but where do you get this modern? 
I started to like the interior. 
We don’t know how to make a multi-layered story that doesn’t have multi-layers. 
We don’t have access to Russia anymore, as we are banded after the Caucuses story. 
I miss it. 
Surprisingly enough we never won at the World Press Photo Awards. 
Then we won a prize. 
You can organise your own party and have your Sochi singers. 
 
Now I switch to the last chapter. 
…and we were arrested. 
This lady became the protagonist of the book. 
Stop I see someone over there. 
She told ‘my husband disappeared’. 
…we heard this story so many times. 
Every second door this kept happening. 
…to understand what happens in the North Caucuses. 
If you just write it down, no one is interested. 
You have to make it personal. 
War becomes terrorism is about boys disappearing. 
A KTO, a counter terrorism operation. 
You never find the bodies. 
We heard lots of stories of boys being tortured in police basements. 
The war is totally useless. 
All these stories became the… 
What we wanted was for those who saw the Olympic games also knew something about this man Putin, who has so much to do with what’s going on there. 
The book sold out. 
4500 is quite a print run for a photo book. 
I know it’s a little bombastic! 
 
DIY Notetaking, DIY Journalism, by Stephen Monger
(I don’t do short hand, or long hand actually. This is something in-between.)