Cristina De Middel is a Spanish documentary photographer based in London. Her self-published book, The Afronauts, has been nominated for the The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.
This is how De Middel herself describes the project:
In 1964, still living the dream of their recently gained independence, Zambia started a space program that would put the first African on the Moon, thus catching up with the USA and the Soviet Union in the space race. Only a few optimists supported the project by Edward Makuka, the school teacher in charge of presenting the ambitious program and getting the necessary funding. But the financial aid never came, as the United Nations declined their support, and one of the astronauts, a 16-year-old girl, got pregnant and had to quit. That is how the heroic initiative turned into an exotic episode of the African history, surrounded by wars, violence, droughts and hunger. As a photojournalist I have always been attracted by the eccentric lines of story-telling, avoiding the same old subjects told in the same old ways. Now, with my personal projects, I respect the basis of the truth but allow myself to break the rules of veracity, trying to push the audience into analyzing the patterns of the stories we consume as real. Afronauts is based on the documentation of an impossible dream that only lives in the pictures. I start from a real fact that took place 50 years ago and rebuild the documents, adapting them to my personal imagery.
The printed book sold out last year, which is why De Middel decided to launch a digital edition to make the project widely available. Cultural App developers Ubicuo Studio and the artist have joined forces to rethink the Afronauts project by taking advantage of some of the iPad’s and iPhone’s features. More information is available here.