Friday Fry Up: Cristina De Middel


“In the sixties a 5 year old Nigerian kid´s village was attacked by soldiers. His mother had left him home alone and he had to run away escaping the bombs and the fire. He saved his life entering the Bush, this magical territory where no humans are allowed and where all the Yoruba spirits live and fight. Our kid spent 30 years lost in the Bush trying to find his way back home amongst the spirits and the dead. He got married two times, became a king, a god and a slave, a cow, a jar, a horse, a goat, ate gold, silver and bronze, snakes and snails, he fought 2 wars and was sentenced to death half a dozen times… all that in just 100 pages. Amos Tutuola wrote “My life in the bush of ghosts” in 1964 and then had to leave the country to escape the violent reactions to a book that would open in the exilium, a new path for contemporary African narrative”.

Combining street photography with staged portraits, Cristina De Middel’s “This is what hatred did” reconstructs folklore and pins it against its contemporary self with an animated adaption of Amos Tutuola’s “My life in the bush of ghosts”. Dedicated to the idea that contemporary issues should be described in a way that includes the agent´s traditions, perspectives, fears and hopes, Middel’s series documents the enhanced reality of the Lagosian neighborhood, Makoko, and reimagines Tutuola’s characters against its floating byways.

In an interview with American Photo Cristina said of her work — “What do you hope gallery goers will take away from the show? – That Africa is not a country; that it is not a battlefield; that there are lots of African stories that are positive, and a lot of extremely talented people doing amazing things there. We cannot keep traveling there with a post-colonial, outdated set of Western clichés about the continent. To understand Africa, you need to get into their mentality and way of understanding the world or at least try.

You can see more of Cristina De Middel’ This is what hatred did, right here.