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Cristina de Middel


In 1964, still living the dream of their recently gained independence, Zambia began a space program with the hope of sending the first African to the moon—catching up to the U.S. and Soviet Union in the space race. But the funding for the project was never raised, as the United Nations declined its support, and one of the astronauts, a 16-year old girl, got pregnant and had to quit. The Afronauts (May, 2012) is the visual depiction of how the heroic 1964 initiative to begin a space program in Zambia turned into an exotic episode of African history, surrounded by wars, violence, droughts and hunger.

Cristina De Middel is a documentary photographer and artist now based in London, she has been working as a photojournalist for different newspapers in Spain (and with Non-governmental organization´s such as Doctors Without Borders and the Spanish Red Cross) for nearly 10 years. She combines her documentary assignments—which have been exhibited and awarded on several occasions—with more personal projects. This side of her work deliberately asks the audience to question the language and the veracity of photography as a document, and plays with reconstructions or archetypes that blur the border between reality and fiction.

Cristina de Middel is the recipient of the 2013 ICP Infinity Award for Publication: The Afronauts.

2013 ICP Infinity Awards: Publication - Cristina de Middel for Harbers Studios and International Center of Photography

The idea of an African space program may sound funny to some, but not to Cristina de Middel. Through a mix of fact and fiction, de Middel forces viewers to reinterpret a 1960s space program in Zambia in her photobook, The Afronauts.