Iko Iko, Afronauts Series

25 / 50 by Cristina de Middel, 2011

Afronautas, © Cristina de Middel, 2021

Artistic disciplines arise from an elementary question: How can we give shape to what lives within our mind? The medium chosen by Cristina de Middel, winner of Spain’s National Photography Award in 2017, to give free rein to her fertile imagination is photography.

In 1964, feeling ecstatic about their newly won independence, Zambia launched its first space program. Their goal was to send 12 astronauts and 10 cats to the moon, thus surpassing the United States and the Soviet Union.

Only a few optimists supported the initiative of Edward Makuka, a Zambian high school teacher. Funding never came. The United Nations refused their support and one of the astronauts, a 16-year-old girl, became pregnant and had to drop out.

The work of Cristina de Middel, which started with this failed space race, lies on the blurry lines between reality and fiction, far from the categorical imperative of truthfulness and documentalism.

The Afronauts explores the idea of an impossible dream: what would have happened if that space program had continued? Cristina de Middel imagines colorful space suits, trainings, space explorations and encounters with extraterrestrials. All sorts of adventures that make photography the perfect companion for the imagination.