The photographer Fabrice Monteiro was born in Belgium in 1972, from a Beninese father and Belgian mother. Raised in Ouidah, Benin, he lives currently in Dakar, Senegal. A self-defined “cross-cultural” artist, Monteiro’s creative focus is Africa. His unique vision emerges from the powerful and influential African aesthetics that have traveled since ancient times, evolving towards vibrant modern expressions to create disturbing, novel and challenging images of the continent. His bold work inquires about what survives deep within a culture intervened by the ineffable forces of extractive and neocolonial capitalism, forces that have abruptly pushed Africa towards a brutal globalization. At the same time, Monteiro reflects about the possibilities of this globalization concerning the future
His project The Prophecy, which combines art, culture and the environment, began in Senegal in 2013 with the aim of creating environmental awareness around the world. By invitation of the Colombian foundation Más Arte Más Acción, with the support of young volunteers, Arts Collaboratory and Parque Explora in the city of Medellín, and in dialogue with the Embera indigenous community, Monteiro was able to develop The Prophecy also in Colombia in 2018, focusing on the harmful exploitation of mercury in the department of Chocó, in the Pacific region. We talked to him this experience and other of his experiences as an artist.
C&AL: The German film maker Wim Wenders has argued that the excess of images in the contemporary world has exhausted the sense and the most relevant meaning of images. As a photographer and visual artist you keep the focus of your vision in Africa, a continent also exploited in terms of its images. ¿How do you think that African photographers deconstruct this dilemma of the so called “excess of images”? Is this a legitimate concern for African visual artists or it seems to worry more to Western hegemonic artists?
Fabrice Monteiro: There is an African proverb: “Until the story of the hunt is told by the lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Yes, a certain image of Africa has been created, used and abused to describe a continent from a Western perspective. Images of Africa have always been a major tool to create a certain propaganda about supposedly virgin territories waiting to be “civilized” by the Western world, or about a place of war and hunger waiting to be assisted by the Western world. I deeply believe that African visual artists not only dispose of a gigantic playground where everything is still waiting to be done, but they also carry the responsibility of deconstructing a certain vision of the African continent.