Cristina De Middel - The Afronauts
13 September - 11 December 2013
Photographer Cristina De Middel (1975, Spain) chose as the
starting point for her project The Afronauts a
little-known episode from Zambia's history. This was a space
programme started by an educator which suddenly entered Zambia in
the space race with the United States and Russia. Its aim was to
put the first African on the moon. Due to a lack of financial
resources, however, the ambitious initiative was doomed to failure.
Fifty years later, De Middel reconstructs this story, using her own
imagination. From 13 September, Foam will be showing the outcome of
this project in an exhibition that makes no reference to
disappointment or defeat: instead we view fantasy-rich and
colourful images full of humour, with wonderful self-created props,
unexpected twists and unusual visitors.
In The Afronauts, De Middel combines set-up photography
with copies of typed letters and reproductions of vintage photos.
Although The Afronauts is in fact based on a failed
undertaking, the project includes nothing that refers to the
failure - to the contrary. The photos have an upbeat look thanks to
De Middels's fanciful space suits, playful astronaut training
sessions and a Zambian flag with a smiley face. Other characters
also appear against the background of the rugged landscape of
Alicante, including an elephant presented as a space creature and a
cat dressed in a starred costume, which according to the story also
was planned to be launched into space.
After a successful photojournalist career of nearly ten years, De
Middel discovered that she had become disappointed in
photojournalism and that her viewpoint toward the consumption of
'authentic' images and the untruths that accompany them was
becoming increasingly cynical. The Afronauts is De
Middels's first successful attempt to design her own ideal world.
De Middel's work shows that fiction can serve as the subject of
photography just as well as facts can and that our expectation that
photography must always make reference to reality is flawed.
The in 2012 self published book The Afronauts was sold
out within two months. The publication was shortlisted for the
Aperture First Photobook of 2012. Cristina De Middel has
recently been nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize
The Afronauts by Cristina De Middel can be seen from 13
September - 11 December 2013 at Foam.
Foam is sponsored by the BankGiroLoterij, De Brauw Blackstone
Westbroek, Delta Lloyd and the VandenEnde Foundation.