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, catching up to 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 its 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 an heroic initiative turned into an exotic episode of African history, surrounded by wars, violence, droughts and hunger. As a photojournalist, I have always been attracted to 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 started from a real fact that took place 50 years ago and rebuilt the documents, adapting them to my personal imagery.
Cristina De Middel (Spain, 1975) is a freelance photographer based in London. De Middel's personal and professional work for newspapers and NGOs has been recognized by the National Photojournalism Prize Juan Cancelo (2009), Fnac Photographic Talent (2009) and the Humble Arts Women in Photography Project Grant (2011). She has an MA in fine arts from University of Valencia, Spain (2001), an MA in photography from University of Oklahoma (2000) and a postgraduate degree in photojournalism from Universitat Politécnica de Barcelona, Spain (2002).