© Rob Hornstra

 
 

Last February, EMOP approached us to ask if we wanted to submit an exhibition proposal. EMOP stands for European Month of Photography. It is a joint venture between seven European photography festivals. I am a great supporter of these kinds of collaborations. It is totally absurd that each exhibition space curates and produces its own exhibitions. Costs can be dramatically reduced through collaborative productions. But I digress.

 
 

© Rob Hornstra

 
 

In March, we held a brainstorming session with our designers Kummer & Herrman. The production had a number of preconditions: at each location we would have use of a piece of wall, but it was unclear how much. Furthermore, 'something with the internet and projections' was expected. In addition, we wanted to give visitors something they could take away, which fits the strategy of The Sochi Project. And if possible, we also wanted to carry out guerrilla campaigns in the various festival cities. The budget for all of this was €3,000.

 
 

© Rob Hornstra

 
 

Based on the success of the poster exhibition in Rome and our introductory newspaper, the question arose of whether we couldn't combine all these elements in one product. And so the idea of a multi-functional newspaper-cum-Do-It-Yourself exhibition was born. A couple of quick calculations revealed that a 64-page newspaper would result in an exhibition of 1.20 x 6 metres. This, combined with an adapted, more public website, would be it.

 
 

© Rob Hornstra

 
 

Financially, these plans were completely unfeasible. We decided to apply for a subsidy, in this case to the documentary photography promoter. Because we are the only Dutch people to be admitted to EMOP, in return for financial support we will write an ‘insider’s report’ on the various festivals, which will be published on the promoter's website.

 
 

© Rob Hornstra

 
 

While we were travelling through the Caucasus last April, EMOP approved our proposal whereupon we were able to start elaborating our ideas. With regards to the content, we had originally planned to make a pre-publication of our upcoming book Empty Land / Promised Land / Forbidden Land. When we returned, however, we decided to devote the newspaper/exhibition to the village Krasny Vostok. On the one hand this was because we had produced excellent work there, and on the other because we came to the realisation that our upcoming book is too complex to be crammed into a 64-page takeaway newspaper. Krasny Vostok has an indirect link to Abkhazia, though, and so will also play a small role in the book being published in November.

 
 

© Rob Hornstra

 
 

In June, we made the first attempts to flesh out the newspaper. At the same time we were hit by the first wave of panic. Where do you begin? Do you start with the exhibition on the wall and see if that also works in a newspaper? Or do you just make a newspaper that you then hang on the wall? How do you create a product that works both as a newspaper and an exhibition? During a brainstorm, concepts sometimes seem easier than they are in practice.

 
 

© Rob Hornstra

 
 

We found a solution in the double usability of some elements. That sounds vague and so I’ll give an example. 'I’d kill a boy if he took my daughter as his girlfriend' is a quote that appears in the exhibition next to the person who made it (Husey Aibasov), but in the newspaper is next to an image of blossoms. In both cases this combination works, and so a quote like this can be used in two situations.

 
 

© Rob Hornstra

 
 

We struggled for several days to fit the pieces of the puzzle together. My living room turned into a scale model of the exhibition, with Post-it notes functioning as movable quotes. Arnold dropped by now and then to distil – over large cups of coffee - new quotes and stories from his notebooks. The scale model newspaper lay next to it. Any change in the exhibition automatically meant a different order in the newspaper. Which usually made no sense at all, and we would have to put everything back where it was.

 
 

© Rob Hornstra

 
 

When the puzzle was 90% complete we delivered the scale model of the newspaper and exhibition to Kummer & Herrman. They have an unbelievably sharp eye for all the details that can make a publication like this better. In the accompanying photos you can see how the dummies slowly transformed into the final product.

 

Rob Hornstra

 
 

Do It Yourself!

 
 

Rob Hornstra's "Do It Yourself" exhibition at our apartment in Berlin