Review: Kiev by The Sochi Project


Book Reviews, Photobooks


The release of smaller, purely photo-centric books, has been a part of The Sochi Project for the past years now. The beauty of these smaller books is that they allow for a bit more playfulness in an otherwise often very heavy series of publications. The latest addition, Kiev, is no exception. Rob Hornstra was given a Kiev 6C medium-format SLR camera, a veritable beast of a camera, which, as it happens, I owned once myself. When they work, which often means if they work, these cameras are pretty amazing. You’ll grow a muscle or two (they’re huge and heavy), and you’ll smell Soviet industrial smells you had no idea they even existed. (more)

One of the tests to determine whether you’re a real photographer or not is whether you can get truly excited over “vintage” camera gear (just kidding). Rob apparently passed the test easily, putting the Kiev to good use before realizing that it might be broken, which, inevitably, it was. Kiev contains the results of this exploration of Sochi with Soviet camera gear, pictures that do look a bit more touristy than his usual work. As he notes in the short text that comes with the book “I photographed things that I had never seen through the lens of my Mamiya.”

The book itself is a nifty production. Printed on a card stock, it’s an origami-style book: The book essentially consists of one big sheet of card board, whose two sides were printed on. The sheet was then cut and folded to produce an almost accordion-style book (there are two hinges that run at the bottom of the book). If you unfold the book you get a poster on one side. In the very center of the book, a single sheet of paper is stapled in, with a little text - quite a neat way to make a very simple and effective book.

Taking the seriousness out of some of their publications has allowed The Sochi Project to experiment with the format photobook and to explore what can be done. This kind of playfulness is very common in the area of DYI publishing/zines, but it hasn’t made it beyond that niche all that much. Kiev thus is a timely reminder that there are all kinds of photobooks, and some can be made in fairly simple, yet effective and fun ways. Kudos to The Sochi Project for pushing the boundaries wherever they fall!

Kiev; photographs and short text by Rob Hornstra; cardboard fold-out book in a photo-illustrated wrapper; The Sochi Project; 2012