Afronauts and other stories

In 1964 a Zambian school teacher, Edward Makuka Nkoloso,  instigated a short-lived project to send an African to Mars.

It has only recently come to light as a photo book created by the Spanish photojournalist Cristina de Middel. Her Afronauts book is a series of staged photographs of the astronauts in training and makeshift spacecraft. In fact the photographs were actually taken in Alicante, using locals as the astronauts. She added additional information to authenticate the document including letters from the Zambian Ministry of Technology. After selling the initial stock of 1000 copies, Afronauts can now be bought for around £750 on eBay and other rare book sites such as AbeBooks for over £855! The photo-book's popularity led to it being shortlisted for a Deutsche Börse photography prize.

It is ironic that the Internet and digital photography, which was once blamed for the demise of photographic printing, is now responsible for an upsurge in more photographs being printed, now in book form. This has in-turn led to the creation of self-publishing websites such as Self Publish Be Happy.

Self-publishing requires a leap of faith for photographers who usually have to buy copies of their book in bulk at the risk of not selling any. However this format offers photographers a new creative opportunity to create conceptual work.

My tutor has asked for me to print photos when submitting assignments. I am very keen to produce a photo book for at least one of my assignments for People and Place.