Golden Years / Rob Hornstra's Russia. Together with writer and film-maker Arnold van Bruggen, Hornstra has spent five years documenting this region of the Caucasus, Sochi in particular. It is the documentation of a love-hate relationship with a colourful country and its remarkable people.
In the wake of an eventful Netherlands-Russia year, from 14 December 2013 Huis Marseille will be devoting several of its exhibition galleries to a photographic examination of the intrinsically Russian soul. This soul is to be found, for instance, along the banks of the great Russian rivers – such as the Volga, the Neva and the Oka – where the country’s development was closely linked to trade and fishing. The Russian photographer Oleg Klimov depicts Russia’s relationship with water, travelling to these places by sea and waterway. The Dutch photographer Rob Hornstra, by contrast, lays bare the Russian soul in a thousand details: the erratically-applied false eyelashes on the flamboyant Natalya Shorogova, floor supervisor at Hotel Zhemchuzhina in Sochi; the educational ‘Cosmonautics’ museum at Orlyonok, a children’s summer camp; in nostalgic found photos, or the simple image of a plate of prison food. Olga Chernysheva is a Russian artist who reveals the remarkable in ordinary, everyday subjects such as Moscow’s curiously withdrawn subway attendants. She also examines the relationship between objects and figures, particularly the uneasy relationships that people enter into with the spaces they occupy.
Besides this special attention for Russia, Huis Marseille is devoting a large gallery to the ‘Portraits of the Ring’ of the internationally-known artist Sarkis and two other rooms to its own collection, including two striking photographs by the Northern Ireland photographer Willie Doherty that are amongst the museum’s newest acquisitions.
Golden Years: Rob Hornstra’s Russia
After his exhibition in Moscow was cancelled a few weeks ago, photographer Rob Hornstra’s ‘Sochi Project’ has been continuously in the news. Since it was announced that the 2014 Winter Olympics would be held in Sochi, this subtropical Black Sea resort has turned into a huge building site; the 2014 Winter Olympics have already been declared the most expensive ever. This makes Sochi the perfect subject for Rob Hornstra, whose preference is for long-term projects that allow him, first and foremost, to tell stories and overturn prejudices. Together with writer and film-maker Arnold van Bruggen, Hornstra has spent five years documenting this region of the Caucasus. But controversial Sochi is only one of Hornstra’s Russian projects. Huis Marseille will be showing a large retrospective of his work in Russia over the last ten years. While Hornstra’s photographs are in the documentary tradition, he has an entirely original style and his images are marked by a narrative and painterly character. In illustrative themes, the typical inhabitants of various Russian regions are paraded before us: veterans, junkies, artisans, patients, prostitutes, Muslims, children, lovers, housewives, and artists. It is the documentation of a love-hate relationship with a colourful country and its remarkable people.
Rob Hornstra (1975) made his name with long-term projects in Iceland, the Netherlands, Russia and elsewhere. In 2004 he graduated cum laude from the hku with his book Communism & Cowgirls [Tsjeljabinsk-Russia], whose independent print run also won him the Dutch Photo Academy Award. With the help of crowdfunding, Hornstra is now working together with writer Arnold van Bruggen on a number of books connected with ‘The Sochi Project’. The last of these publications, An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus (Aperture), will be for sale in the museum shop in November 2013.
ial world, ‘Ballads’. Sarkis’ work has been exhibited internationally since the 1970s, including at the Venice Biennale and in Istanbul. Over the last four months the young video artist Emma van der Put (1988, Den Bosch) also made four videos of the last stages of Huis Marseille’s rebuilding activities and its preparations for the exhibition ‘The rediscovery of the world’.
Willie Doherty and the Huis Marseille collection
The museum galleries devoted to Huis Marseille’s own collection include two large, recently-acquired works by the Northern Ireland photographer Willie Doherty (Derry, 1959). At this year’s Art Basel Doherty was represented by his compelling video ‘Remains’ (2013), drawn from ‘a body of work that meditates upon the irrefutable traces of past events that will not disappear, that resurfaces and cannot be forgotten.’ The two photographs, ‘Seepage’ and ‘To the Border, A Fork in the Road’, were made at the end of the last century but first printed only very recently. Here, along the fracture line of escalating violence between Irish Catholics and Protestants, Doherty traces and articulates the scars in the city and the country in an understated but powerful way. Willie Doherty is currently the subject of a retrospective exhibition in Derry, ‘Unseen’, which will be shown in Tilburg’s De Pont museum of contemporary art in 2015. The accompanying publication is for sale in the Huis Marseille museum shop.
Opening Saturday December 14 2013
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