Cristina De Middel (Spain, 1975) is a London based photographer that has been working for different newspapers in Spain and with NGO´s for almost 10 years. She combines her strictly documentary assignments with more personal projects that question the potential of photography as both a document and an illustration of reality. With projects like The Afronauts (Deutsche Börse Prize finalist and ICP´s Infinity Award), Cristina deliberately invites the audience to question the language and the veracity of photography as a document, and plays with reconstructions and symbols that blur the border between reality and fiction.
In “Sharkification”, the Spanish artist transformed the Rio slum of Rocinha in the seabed and the UPP (Pacifying Police Unit), the Rio Security Bureau project in shark-represented by a gas balloon helium controlled via remote control. “The idea is to convert the community in an underwater environment where fish predators operate and small fish hide and ‘fight’ with their strategies to stay alive”, she explains.
De Middel brought from London, where she lives, three balloons shaped shark and painted with the colours of the UPP. Thus, documented the reaction of the favela residents and asked them to, in some scenes, interpret small fish fleeing predator. A video is also being produced.
“I realized when I started visiting the favela that there were many more aspects that I could include in this game of turning Rocinha into an underwater world and the UPP as the predator. There are very interesting similarities between what happens under the sea and what happens in a favela”, says De Middel.
The artist actually went back to Brazil for three weeks to finish the series.
“My plan is to work with costume makers and with local samba schools with choreaographies, so basically the work developed so far is just a preview of what it will become”, she explains.