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Interview: Cristina De Middel at the Deutsche Börse
by admin on May 1, 2013 • 12:05 pm
2013 sees a particularly strong Deutsche Börse, with big names such as the increasingly conceptual Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin and black and white documentary master Chris Killip competing for not only the prestige of but the sizable sum of £30,000.
Last year the small scale and limited nature of works left the exhibition feeling sparse, this time the gallery lives up to its name hosting a bumper show filled with well displayed, impressive work.
Vignette caught up with our favourite Cristina De Middel to talk about her much praised work The Afronauts.
The project takes the abortive 1964 Zambian space program as a loose starting point. Middel runs with the story, creating a varied set of images depicting the imagined Afronauts and their space mission. Although outlandish and sometime comical Middel’s desire to question the veracity of both news stories and photography anchor the work in a much broader debate.
The project was self-published as an edition of 1000 books. After rave reviews at Arles it soon sold out and in the process accelerated Cristina De Middel’s transition from a photojournalist to ‘art’ photographer of the future. We feel her unique approach and technical adeptness make her a strong contender for the prize.
Cristina De Middel, Untitled, from the series The Afronauts, 2011 © Cristina De Middel Courtesy of the artist
Untitled, from the series The Afronauts, 2011 © Cristina De Middel Courtesy of the artist
Vignette: Firstly congratulations on the nomination, a big achievement!
Cristina de Middel: Yes I agree!
How does it feel to be nominated?
Honestly? I don’t know! It’s a life changing experience it has changed everything for me, and opened up possibilities for future projects. But its also a responsibility, I used to work in a more private environment and now everything I do is object to the opinions of other people and the expectations of other people, I wasn’t ready for that!
The images look great, they hold the idea of a low budget space program without themselves looking amateurish, how did you achieve that balance?
I think because I was working in the same spirit, I had a very low budget and wanted it to look good, I think I was more inspired by how movies are made more than any type of photographic discipline.
The locations seem very important. How did you go about finding them, how long did the process take you?
I needed a dry area, so living in Spain that was very easy; I needed elephants so I went to the zoo near my hometown! but throughout the whole production process I was not just working on The Afronauts, I was traveling and working but I always had the project in mind, I was spotting locations as I went. For example this image ( below) is on the outskirts of Madrid, these are cement mixers. Whilst on assignment in Palestine for the Red Cross I decided to go to the Dead Sea, and I found a group of Africans having a mud bath there and decided ‘ok your Afronauts’.