Russia in Color

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I found that Kiev by The Sochi Project (text and photographs by Rob Hornstra) and La Prose Du Transsiberien by Blaise Cendrars and Sonia Delaunay-Terk had more in common with one another than their country of origin.  It is true, both books are from and about Russia, but I was drawn to the similarities between the treatment of color, text, and untraditional binding methods of each book.


The Sochi Project is an ongoing endeavor by a small group to document the transformation of Sochi, Russia into the site of the 2014 Olympic Games. Kiev is one of several volumes of The Sochi Project, and it features photographs by Rob Hornstra.  On working with an old Russian camera, Hornstra commented, “I photographed things that I had never seen through the lens of my Mamiya.” Kiev, with its brilliantly vibrant color photographs (printed from color negatives, instead of digital files) serves as an ode analog photography and the past and tradition the medium represents. The book, printed on cardstock folded origami style, is actually one large sheet of paper that can be unfolded and viewed from both sides. For Hornstra, this project was about seeing the world through a new lens (pun kind of intended) and communicating this experience in a simple yet effective structure.the-sochi-project-kievprose-siberien

La Prose Du Transsiberien is poem that tells the story of a train trip taken by the 16 year old poet on a journey from Moscow to Mongolia during the Russian Revolution of 1905.  While only 60 of the 150 planned copies were printed, the intention was to have the total length of all 150 books equal the height of the Eiffel Tower.  This was to turn the book into a symbol of modernity, which  was reflected in both the text and prints featured in the book.  Different fonts were used to suggest movement and mood, while the artist played with color and shape to create visual rhythm that would stand on equal footing with the text.  La Prose Du Transsiberien is made of four large sheets of paper that have been glued together and folded accordion style.  Like Kiev, La Prose Du Transsiberien’s pages can be viewed individually, or as a cohesive work. While Kiev features far less text than La Prose Du Transsiberien, both books use color to evoke feeling, understanding, and excitement for the viewer. Both books are printed on decent, but not extravagant paper, and can be folded into a manageable size. I was drawn to these books as they both utilize the juxtaposition of color to communicate the experience of a specific place and time in Russia. In essence, process and material are what makes both of these books effective and compelling.



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