Spanish photographer Cristina De Middel’s constructed photographs tells the story of a little known piece of Zambian History. During the 60’s when the eyes of the world were upon the USA and Russia during the space race, Edward Makuka Nkolosoan, a high school teacher in Zambia started putting together a space program with the intention of “if everything went well,” he would send 12 astronauts and a cat to Mars by the end of the year. He applied to UNESCO, asking for a £7000,000 grant for what he called ‘the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research and Philosophy’. However the application was denied and the programme failed. 50 years on De Middel has created a set of photographs that show the humour and optimism behind the failed space programme. The images seem to convey the silliness of the idea that their attempt would be successful.
Using colourful props, an elephant space creature and a cat dressed in a starred costume, De Middel posed the question to her audience of why the idea seems so absurd. The images of the aeronauts themselves show the humorous side to the story De Middel is trying to convey.
The combination of space gear and traditional african tribal dress conveys the idea what the Zambians did not really know what they were doing. Obviously this is an exaggerated version, but it served to display the optimism of those who were taking part in the programme, and the difference of opinion from the outside work looking on. The last image above of the man seated at old/broken machinery shows the optimism,