The Afronauts by Cristina de Middel
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The second edition of The Afronauts, launched at The Rencontres d'Arles, 2016.
Shortly after Zambia gained independence in 1964 an optimistic project was launched to enter it into the space race and beat both the Americans and Soviet Union. It was headed by a school teacher called Edward Makuka and his intention was to send twelve astronauts and one cat into space a year later on Zambia's Independence day. UNESCO however decided not to grant Zambia the millions of pounds needed. Due to a combination of lacking financial aid and one of the astronauts becoming pregnant, the project was never realised. ‘The Afronauts’ is Cristina de Middel's interpretation of those events, based loosely on facts, but with threads of fantasy woven throughout. This book was self published by Cristina de Middel, care and attention has gone into every element of the production. The series of photographs are meticulously edited with reproductions of letters and drawings to assist the story.
The Afronauts was Cristina de Middel's first publication, it has won the ICP Infinity award and is one of four nominated for the 2013 Deutsche Borse Photography Prize.