As the winter games get into full swing in Sochi, a Pop-Up Art Loop exhibit, “The Olympic City” takes a look at a very different aspect of the Olympic tradition: the toll hosting the Games takes on a city’s economy and cultural identity. Since 2008, featured photographers Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit have visited 13 former host cities, chronicling the Olympic aftermath—both positive and negative—in places like Berlin, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sarajevo, and more.
“We’re looking for traces of the Olympics in these cities and their residents,” Pack says. “We’re looking for remnants, ghosts. We’re interested in the impact the Games, and the passage of time, have had on these cities. In London, we were looking at a city six months after hosting the Games, a city still hoping to prove that they had pulled it off. In Sarajevo, we were looking at a place some 30 years after hosting the Games, a city torn apart by war in the early '90s, whose Olympic facilities were repurposed by armies for fighting.”
Sochi is pegged to be the most expensive Olympics yet with more than $50 billion spent on development, and Hustwit is looking forward to seeing how that affects the city. “We’ll be visiting Sochi,” he says, “but not for several years, since we're mostly interested in how the city adapts after the Games. How will the city look five or ten years from now? Will these venues and structures still be in use? In all the media coverage leading up to the Games, I haven’t once read an interview with someone who actually lives in Sochi, about how this mega-event will help or hurt the city's future. That's what we're looking at with this project.” On display through March 7. 29 W. Randolph St.
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY THE OLYMPIC CITY PROJECT, OLYMPICCITYPROJECT.COM; JON PACK (HIGH DIVE, SKI JUMPS, ARCHWAY); GARY HUSTWIT (MASCOTS, OLYMPIC PARK)