Confronted with threats of ecological destruction in Senegal, West Africa, photographer Fabrice Monteiro (Belgian/Beninese, born 1972) began a multi-year project to raise awareness about the environment and the consequences of mass consumption. He combined storytelling, fashion photography, and photojournalism in a body of work collectively entitled The Prophecy in order to highlight site-specific environmental issues within the context of West African culture and traditional beliefs. The Prophecy comprises thirteen color photographs depicting djinns—supernatural spirits—emerging from garbage heaps, ravaged forests, motor vehicle exhaust, and poisoned waters. Sent by Gaïa, mother and guardian of Earth, the spirits reveal themselves to warn humankind of its devastating effect on the planet.
At once beautiful and horrifying, the djinns offer no solutions. As in African masquerade culture, their evocative costumes make present an otherwise invisible force with which we can engage. The djinns conjure the souls of landscapes altered and erased by humans, but in so doing also embody the unseen, transformative effects of those environmental changes on the people who survive there.
It is significant that the metamorphoses of place and body in Monteiro’s photographs are set mainly in Africa, a continent exploited for centuries through colonialism and racial oppression to profit others. Today, ongoing wealth disparity ensures that the world’s poorest nations will suffer more acutely from environmental pressures, like climate change, pollution, and overfishing, than the economic powers that benefit most from the industries driving those problems.
On view in its entirety for the first time in the United States, The Prophecy is a story about humanity confronting our complicated relationship with the world we depend upon. The thought-provoking photographs offer an opportunity to engage audiences from a variety of perspectives, including environmental sociology and justice, African studies, and art as an agent of change.
Fall 2019, Chazen Museum of Art | October 5, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Spring/Summer 2020, open slot
Summer/Fall 2020, open slot
Fall/Winter 2020, open slot
Winter/Spring 2021, open slot
Didactics: Introductory panel, artist’s quotation, and extended object label text provided in digital format
$15,000 for an approximate 12-week display, inclusive of framing and crating
Costs for one-way shipping via fine-art shuttle or fine-art exclusive to the borrowing institution from the previous venue are the responsibility of the borrowing institution.
Approximately 160 linear feet for 13 framed works (each 39 ½ x 55 ¼ in.)
Katherine Alcauskas, Chief Curator, Chazen Museum of Art
James R. Wehn, PhD, Van Vleck Curator of Works on Paper, Chazen Museum of Art
Categories: Traveling Exhibitions