Born in Spain, Cristina de Middel spent ten years as a photojournalist before changing her approach to making work. Combining her documentary experience with a more conceptual approach, de Middel’s work is a departure from photojournalism in that she allows her own subjectivity and staging to influence the results.

This 2011 photograph is from her book The Afronauts. Taken in 2011, it is a surreal staging of one of the training missions at Zambia’s National Academy of Science, Space Research and Astronomical Research.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, as the US and the former Soviet Union worked to achieve various firsts in space-flight capability a Zambian science teacher named Edward Makuka decided he too would join the international “space race” in 1964. De Middel’s project re-visualises this little-known interplanetary mission, using costume and staging in order to explore and question representations of Africa while challenging ideas around diaspora, race, and societal power structures.

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