Work and statement by CRISTINA DE MIDDEL | Fall 2015 | Print Only
Any given Monday, a fifty-year-old woman who is about to enter the operating room for an open-heart surgery decides to write me begging for help. She urgently needs someone to administer her huge fortune and share it amongst different NGOs. A few hours later, a young girl tries to persuade me to marry her in order to at last get the great inheritance her parents left her with the only condition of not being single at the age of 30. On Tuesday, an African attorney has chosen me to share the funds of a leftover account he’s found, and at the same time, I’m informed that I just won the British Lottery and a brand new Toyota.
All of them have been entering my INBOX for the last year, telling me incredible stories they describe with all the details I need to realize that their situation is definitely dramatic and that they truly need my help. By trying to awaken both my mercy and my greed, they offer me the perfect business: cleaning my conscience and my financial situation at the same time.
Long ago, the Internet lost all its consistency and became a machine out of control, and any medium-experienced internaut is aware of the scam hidden in these unique opportunities. We have come to the point where these terrible stories told are not even worth the time it takes to read them, and they are directly deleted in what could be considered a crime against humanity at a domestic level.
With this project, I recover these stories and read them carefully, analyzing the scheme of the trap that is hidden in its structure and that offers a list of our complexes and sins as social beings. These stories are designed to make us feel chosen as one-in-a-million: at last, lady luck knocking at our door after all this effort in vain.
Starting from this deliciously written lie, the series “Poly-Spam” aims to build the robotic portrait of the senders, taking every single detail specified and translating it into images with special care in the dramatic ambient of the specific moment in which the mail was sent.
By using photography and its veracity load, I certify the existence of something too good to be true; I create impossible documents based on pure lies. I put a face behind the tale, but a contemporary one; a tale adapted to the dreams and frustrations of modern times.
-Cristina de Middel
De: email@example.com Asunto: Bonjour Fecha: 21 de noviembre de 2008 12:02:25 GMT+01:00 Para: undisclosed-recipients:; Responder a: firstname.lastname@example.org
I write to you these few lines with a lot of hesitation to share my terrible situation with you, but first, let me introduce myself. I am Mrs. ALESIA ATOLEVNA MARKINA and I am a widow, from Russia.
My husband was one of the victims of the Tsunamy disaster in Thailand and I am the beneficiary of an inherited fortune of $ 4.500.000. I am now going through serious problems with my husband´s family as they pretend to take over this legacy. with my husband´s family as they pretend to take over this legacy.
Without telling anyone about this amount of money I took the precaution of hiding it in a metallic suitcase and deposit it in an Insurance company here in Russia. Nevertheless si situation is getting worse after the inquiries of my in-laws and I´ve asked the company to take special care of the suitcase. That is why they are going to send it through diplomatic bag to another safekeeping company in London, UK. As my husband used to have business in that country the agreement with them was made to take care of that suitcase that is supposed to be made of family assets, so they don´t know about the real content of it.
Here is the reason why I decided to contact you as I completely mistrust my husband´s family and I am faced to a problem I am not sure to be able to solve on my own. I would like you to help me transfer this wallet with total discretion to your country as I am planning to invest this money in profitable business tehre. if you decide to collaborate we would talk about the comission you would get and would transfer the money to your account as soon as the business is closed.
In fact after my husband´s death, the members of his family have tried in different occasions to kill me thinking that after that they would touch the inheritance legally.
Using their contacts and influences they´ve already managed to take all the properties and valuables things from me but not having enough with that they´ve threatened me and forced to reveal all my husband´s accounts. I could do nothing but giving them all this information and they now control all these accounts. I told them everuthing but the existence of this suitcase in which all my hope is based.
I implore you to realise the terrible situation I´m going through as just today the suitcase is travelling from Russia to London and I am now with no money at all and a dramatic financial situation.
This situacion is even more serious as I am paying 10 dollars per day of custody to this company in London. If you decide to help me I will send you the data of the english company so you can contact them and they can leave the suitcase at your address.
I thank you infinitely for your colaboration and hope ti hear from you soon to close this business.
Mrs. ALESIA ATOLEVNA MARKINA
De: email@example.com Asunto: GODD NEWS / REPLY Fecha: 13 de mayo de 2008 11:08:03 GMT+02:00 Para: firstname.lastname@example.org, Responder a: email@example.com
Dear Sir / Madam
My name is Barrister Fagbemi Lateef i am a solicitor at law.I am the personal attorney to the Late Mr.Matthew,(Chief Executive Officer)of BIOOIL OIL SERVICING LTD,who till his untimely death was a contractor with Texaco Nigeria in port Harcourt,Nigeria.Whom here in after shall bereferred to as my client.
On the 21st of April 2005, my client, his wife and their two children were involved in a car accident along sagbama express road. All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives. Since then I have made several enquiries to your embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives,this has also proved unsuccessful.
After these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to track his last name over the Internet, to locate any member of his family hence I contacted you. I have contacted you to assist in repatriating the money and properties left behind by my client before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable by the bank where this huge deposit were lodged.
Particularly, The African Development Bank Group Plc, where the deceased had a deposit valued at about US$3.5 Million has issued me a notice to provide the next-of-kin or have the account confiscated within the 6 weeks.Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 2 years now,I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased to have the same last name so that the proceeds of this account valued at US$3.5 Million can be paid to you and then you and I can share the money. 50% to me and 45% to you then 5% for expenses. I have all necessary legal documents that can be used to backup any claim we may make.
All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see this deal through.I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. Please get in touch with me immediately as I do not have much time in my disposal.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated co-operation.
Best Regards, Barrister Fagbemi Lateef
Cristina de Middel is a photographer whose work investigates photography’s ambiguous relationship to truth. She lives and works in Mexico. All images courtesy of the artist.
Issue Six is our second in print, and features work by Cristina de Middel, Afabwaje Kurian, Chitra Ganesh, Jayson Musson, and more! Issue Six also comes with limited edition supplements:All of Them Witches, a 32-page risograph-printed comic re-interpreting 1950s Harvey Horror comics, plus volume four of our comics section, Early Edition!