Review Santa Fe: Cristina De Middel

Over the next month, I will be sharing some of the photographers who attended Review Santa Fe in June.  Review Santa Fe is the only juried review in the United States and invites 100 photographers to Santa Fe for a long weekend of reviews, insights, and connections.  

Cristina De Middel’s amazing series, The Afronauts, has been on my radar for awhile.  The first time I saw the series, it took my breath away with its originality and subject matter.  The buzz at Review Santa Fe was not just about the work, but about the amazing book that accompanied it.  Unfortunately, the book is sold out, but it’s a sign that we need to be first in line for her next offering.
Cristina De Middel is a documentary photographer and artist now
based in London that has been working as a photojournalist for different
newspapers in Spain (and with NGO´s such as Doctors Without Borders or
the Spanish Red Cross) for almost 10 years . She combines her strictly
documentary assignments , which has been exhibited and awarded in
several occasions (including a National Photojournalism Award Juan
Cancelo  and a special mention at the New Fnac Photographic Talent ),
with more personal projects . This B-side of Cristina´s 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. She received her MA in Fine Arts at the Universitat Politécnica de Valencia, Spain, her MA in Photography at the University of Oklahoma, a postgraduate degree in Photojournalism at the Barcelona Autónoma University, Spain and spent time in IV War Correspondents Training in Madrid Spain.

Images from the Afronauts book

Images from The Afronauts

 The AfronautsIn 1964, still leaving the dream of their recently gained independence, Zambia started a space program that would put the first African on the moon catching up  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 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 .