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    Cristina De Middel: The Afronauts (detail)

Photography: Cristina de Middel imagines the forgotton Zambian space project

Posted by Lisa Farrell,

Did you know that after gaining independence in 1964, Zambia started a space programme to send the first African astronaut to the moon?! Nope, neither did we, which to be fair is not that surprising as a lack of financial resources meant the project was pretty much doomed to failure, becoming no more than a little-known occurrence in the history of the global Space Race.

However, this year photographer Cristina De Middel brought the forgotten episode back to life with her self-published publication The Afronauts. Using the aborted mission as a starting point to create a wondrous fiction, De Middel illustrated the story from her own imagination with beautiful colour photographs that show a joyful and humorous reinterpretation of the celestial endeavour. Fanciful spacesuits, elephant space creatures and a Zambian smiley face flag are sequenced alongside manipulated documents, drawings and reproductions of letters from the mission. The result is a stunning project that defies the traditions of factual documentary to tell a story which both illuminates and mythologises the human desire to conquer the moon.

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    Cristina De Middel: The Afronauts

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    Cristina De Middel: The Afronauts

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    Cristina De Middel: The Afronauts

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    Cristina De Middel: The Afronauts

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    Cristina De Middel: The Afronauts

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Posted by Lisa Farrell

Lisa joined It’s Nice That in 2013 and oversees our events programme, running both our monthly Nicer Tuesdays event and our annual summer symposium Here. She has a particular interest in photography.