Cristina de Middel

25/01/2024 - 17/03/2024

Opening on 25 January, Thursday, at 6.30 p. m.

Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel is visiting Sofia upon the invitation of the FotoFabrika Festival. The exhibition of the globally renowned photographer and current president of the Magnum collective presents images from five of her most popular photographic series, including The Afronauts and This Is What Hatred Did, which have brought her immense popularity and global recognition. The project is part of the Cultural Events Calendar of the Sofia Municipality. Media Partner: BTA / Bulgarian Telegraph Agency.

The photographer will be present at the exhibition opening and will give a public lecture on 27 January, Saturday, at 5.00 p. m. in the Ballroom of the Palace with free admission. In addition to this public engagement, she will conduct a special portfolio review over two days, meeting with a dozen selected Bulgarian photographers. They will have the opportunity to hear her opinions and recommendations on their work. More information about participating in the portfolio review can be found here.

Cristina de Middel explores the dual relationship of photography with truth. Blending documentary and conceptual photography, she plays with reconstructions and symbols to blur the boundaries between reality and fiction while commenting on pressing issues of our time. Her professional journey began as a photojournalist. In 2012, she created her exceptionally popular conceptual series The Afronauts. This type of photography continues to challenge public perceptions of where documentary ends and fiction begins. She has curated some of the major global photographic events, including Photo España and festivals in Lagos, Nigeria, and San Jose, Uruguay. She is the author of more than 14 photo books.

Brief information about the series included in the exhibition

The Afronauts
The series reconstructs events surrounding the attempt to create an African space programme in 1964 by Zambian Edward Makuka Nkoloso. De Middel skillfully juggles Western clichés about Africa and space, intertwining them with historical facts about Zambia’s space programme.

This Is What Hatred Did
De Middel reconstructs the plot of one of the novels by popular Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola, transporting the fantasy narrative to contemporary Nigeria.

A glimpse into contemporary China through a combination of text and images. The images are combined with excerpts from the second most printed book in world history, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The excerpts are censored and edited to reflect the country’s modern state, departing from the classic communist slogan.

Jan Mayen
In 1911, an Arctic expedition set sail to rediscover the island of Jan Mayen, located east of the shores of Greenland. Not everything goes according to plan, and ultimately, the result of the expedition is a series of photos taken along the shores of Iceland. Using the original archive and based on the expedition’s film script, Cristina de Middel “stages” her photo series along the shores of the Scottish island of Skye. The two sets of photos are then blended and hand-coloured to tell the story of this ill-fated expedition.

Gentlemen’s Club
To achieve a better visual balance in presenting prostitution in 2015, Cristina de Middel placed an advertisement in a newspaper in Rio de Janeiro, stating that she was looking for clients willing to pose for her in exchange for payment. To her surprise, many men responded, and their portraits and interviews became the first chapter of the Gentlemen’s Club – a visual representation of sex service users worldwide. Over seven years, the photographer traveled to different cities directly connected to this business, gathering 100 photos and interviews where men share their motivation and views on paid sex. The locations include Havana, Mexico City, Paris, Bangkok, Los Angeles, Lagos, Kabul, Amsterdam, and Mumbai. Some of them are well-known for sex tourism, others contribute to romanticising prostitution or show the cultural differences burdening this significant global secret.