Rob Hornstra’s New Book: “Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land”


Institute for Artist Management’s blog just published a full view of Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen’s new book “Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land”. It is the second annual publication from their amazing Sochi Project and concerns itself with the tiny and absurd nation of Abkhazia. Hornstra of course is a favorite of ours and we’ve written about his work many times in the past (and recently posted a great video interview). But this is one of the first times I’ve gotten to really dig in to one of his books (other than briefly flipping through a copy of 101 Billionaires earlier this year) and see how it all comes together in the form that he clearly prefers. This book is a thick 272 pages with lots of interesting text and maps. It is great that there is a complete preview online, you can see and read it all, but the real book would be of course much superior to absorb their words and pictures (e.g. the recent discussion “Seeing work on a computer is not seeing it at all”)

‘Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land’ (ELPLFL) is an account of four years spent travelling through Abkhazia. Abkhazia broke away from Georgia after a short, violent civil war in ’92-’93 and was recognised as independent in 2008 by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and the atoll of Nauru. Over the past four years we have seen how the country has slowly attempted to claw its way out of isolation. We visited the refugees in Georgia and described the attempts made by the Abkhazian government to repopulate the empty, war-ravaged country with new immigrants.

In ‘Empty Land, Promised Land, Forbidden Land’, we sketch a picture of Abkhazia from the perspective of many different Abkhazians, from pupil to president, in cities and in the countryside. It is the first time that the young country has been so extensively portrayed in words and images.

The book was first unveiled last week in Paris as part of Paris Photo at Offprint Paris. You can order the book for €49 (or €35 if you are a sponsor of The Sochi Project) through Hornstra’s website or via email: rob@thesochiproject.org.


  1. [...] as well as the story itself beautifully. This is another item I cannot wait to see in person (like the Sochi Project’s new book). Even though I have all the material in front of me, I know that it will be better in person. [...]

  2. [...] Hornstra, who we’ve featured a number of times, had a film crew from Vice TV follow him around in his home in Utrect, Netherlands and in Sochi, [...]

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