The evolution of the photographer Cristina De Middel maps the complex process of shedding clichés.
In 2015, the Spanish-Belgian photographer Cristina De Middel posed herself an obvious but underasked question. In most photographic projects about sex work, it is the faces and bodies of women we see: their strength, weakness, courage and suffering. Where are the men? De Middel wanted to interview men who had paid for sex and photograph them in the kinds of hotel rooms to which they would take female sex workers. So she put an ad in Extra and O Dia, two local newspapers in Rio de Janeiro. She was astonished by the volume of response: More than 100 men showed interest.
Cristina de Middel, one of the most singular and prolific photographers in the world, has carried out numerous projects since her successful series The Afronauts in 2012. A former journalist, for the past several years she has been pursuing personal research, following a more conceptual approach and gradually abandoning the press for the art world. In 2017, she is a Magnum Photos nominee and received the National Photography Prize awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. In her exhibition Muchismo, installed in Madrid in June 2017, Cristina de Middel decided to revisit the totality of her work and display it just the way she keeps it in her studio, that is without any apparent order and crowded together. The exhibition features over 400 images made in Zambia, Brazil, Lagos, India, the Niger… This monographic exhibition is part of the Vagamondes Festival in Mulhouse, France, and is curated by the writer and curator Christian Caujolle.
Photographer Cristina De Middel was looking to challenge the common perspective of Africa’s identity when she was selected as the curator for the sixth Lagos Photo Festival, which kicked off in Nigeria last month.
Until 2013, Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel had never been to Africa, despite producing the critically acclaimed book, The Afronauts, a work of photographic fiction based on the true story of Zambia’s 1960s failed space program. “I was talking about Africa without having ever been,” she tells TIME. So, when the Lagos Photo Festival offered to show her work in Nigeria, she jumped at the opportunity. “They invited me to stay as much as I wanted, and asked me whether I’d consider doing another project about Africa.”
The idea of an African space program may sound funny to some, but not to Cristina de Middel. Through a mix of fact and fiction, de Middel forces viewers to reinterpret a 1960s space program in Zambia in her photobook, The Afronauts.
Cornell Capa Lifetime Achievement: David Goldblatt
ICP Trustees Award: Pat Schoenfeld
Young Photographer: Kitra Cahana
Art: Mishka Henner
Publication: Cristina de Middel, “The Afronauts”
Photojournalism: David Guttenfelder
Applied/Fashion/Advertising: Erik Madigan Heck
The four finalists for the 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, which comes with a 30,000 pound (about $48,000 US) award, have been announced. They are: Mishka Henner, Cristina de Middel, Chris Killip and the duo of Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. T
"Mishka Henner, Cristina de Middel, Chris Killip and the duo of Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin"