“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” —Carl Sagan
One of the four artists recently shortlisted for the prestigious 2013 Deutsche Börse Prize is the Spanish photographer, Cristina De Middel, whose self-published book, “The Afronauts” takes us into the world of the Zambian space program of the 1960’s. Yes: the Zambian space program.
Known as the “Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy,” the unofficial organization, lead by an ambitious man named Edward Nkoloso, wanted Zambia, despite it’s Russian and American competitors, to be the first to Mars. Now that’s ambition for you.
Cristina De Middel carefully reveals the story through a brilliantly crafted photobook that creates an experience of both history and imagination. I have only perused a copy, but found the enigmatic photographs, charts, letters, and layout to be first-rate. De Middel, who is also a photojournalist, is skillfully blurring truth & fiction. None of these photos were taken in Zambia. And none of them are “real” in their depiction of actual events. De Middel is challenging our unwarranted belief in the photograph: the idea that what we see is somehow true, real, and authentic. When, after all, it’s just a photograph. —Lane Nevares