Forgotten by Capitalism

In the book 101 Billionaires, Norwegian photographer Rob Hornstra reveals the raw reality lurking behind the facade of the Russian power elite.

 

Photography by Rob Hornstra, from his 101 Billionaires book. Courtesy of the artist. © Rob Hornstra / www.borotov.nl

From 2000 to 2008, after more than a decade of recession and confusion following the collapse of the Soviet government, Russian capitalism skyrocketed thanks in large part to the country’s vast supplies of oil and natural gas. This boom led the Moscow-based business newspaper Finans to publish an overview of the country’s most powerful citizens, and the paper’s editors declared that Russia was home to 101 billionaires.

But for each one of them, there are millions of others who weren’t connected, lucky, or tough enough to cash in. These citizens — factory workers, cab drivers, veterans, and more — are the subjects of photographer Rob Hornstra’s ironically titled book, 101 Billionaires. They include people like Andrey (pictured at right), a severely drug-addicted young man with HIV and tuberculosis. He receives no assistance from state health organizations and is resigned to his fate (and perhaps liberated by it). “I am sure I will die soon,” he says. “But I am not afraid. Nothing will scare me anymore.”

In early 2009, the day the first edition of 101 Billionaires sold out, Finans announced that the number of billionaires in Russia had dropped to 49.

To learn more about Rob Hornstra and his work visit www.borotov.nl.

Rob Hornstra lives and works in The Netherlands.