The Unknown selected amongst Volkskrant beste fotoboeken van 2022


I feel incredibly honored that The Unknown - Russia 2003 has been included by de Volkskrant in the selection of ten best Dutch photobooks of 2022.

De Volkskrant: “Nothing is intact in the photographs taken by a young Rob Hornstra in 2003 in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, in the southern Urals. Hornstra, now 47 and awarded documentary photographer, was there for his graduation project from the Utrecht Art Academy. He had been advised to portray as many people as possible during his trip. […] The flash-lit portraits show every detail, every scar, but also the refinement, grace, authenticity and beauty of the Russians met by Hornstra. With him, we wonder: what has happened to them, twenty years later?”

Waar kan ik 'The Unknown - Russia 2003' kopen?


In Nederland kan je momenteel bij deze boekhandels/museumshops een exemplaar van The Unknown - Russia 2003 aanschaffen:

  • Amsterdam, FOAM
  • Amsterdam, Huis Marseille
  • Den Haag, Kunstmuseum Den Haag
  • Rotterdam, Nederlands Fotomuseum
  • Utrecht, Centraal Museum
  • Utrecht, De Utrechtse Boekenbar

Presale new book The Unknown


Today marks the presale of my new book The Unknown - Russia 2003. Pre-sales are an indispensable part of financing my books. As a thank you for your trust, your name will be mentioned in the book. Additionally, the first hundred buyers will receive a numbered and signed copy [Update 02.10.2022: Numbered copies sold out].

The Unknown presents previously unseen portraits taken in 2003 as part of my graduation project. I travelled through the Russian province of Chelyabinsk to do something about the first generation of Russians growing up after the collapse of communism. One month later I came home with 1,148 medium- and large-format negatives. The majority of these are portraits of people I met during my wanderings through the provincial capital and surrounding villages.

For my book Communism & Cowgirls (2004), I mainly selected personal images that I took in people’s homes. The chance encounters on the street remained untouched in my negative folders for years.

Two decades later, I look back at those encounters with amazement. How are these people faring in today’s Russia, which has changed so dramatically since we met? The liberty that I, as a foreign photographer, had to capture random people on the street has disappeared. The developments that have taken place since my first trip to Russia give those encounters in 2003 a certain poignancy. The former Iron Curtain is being redrawn. Russia has never felt so far away.

The Unknown will be launched during Paris Photo 2022. If you pick up your copy at Kominek Books during Paris Photo, you can avoid shipping costs by using the discount code PICKUPPARIS at checkout.

Temporarily available:
Summer Print 2018 runs until


LIMITED TIME PRINT OFFER: This exclusive handmade analogue c-print (36 x 42 cm) of a frozen vessel in Siberia is now available for only 148 euros excluding framing and shipping. Once the season is over, the image is no longer reprinted. The number of buyers determines the print run, up to a maximum of 25. This offer runs until 30 September 2018.

The Summer Print 2018 features two girls portrayed in a park in Chelyabinsk at the end of May 2003. I was there to produce a series for my Graduation from the art academy. A selection of that work has been published in my graduation book Communism & Cowgirls. Recently, for the first time in fifteen years, I started looking back at that archive. The largest part of the work consists of portraits of unknown people in the public space. Together with Kominek Books I am working on compiling a selection from this archive, which we want to publish in a book titled The Unknown. This photo is part of that selection.

the unknown