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The complete series of The Prophecy makes U.S. debut at the Chazen
Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy #10, Baryt prints in color, courtesy of the artist.

MADISON, WIS.- Combining haute couture with full-color depictions of ecological crises, Belgian-Beninese photographer Fabrice Monteiro’s The Prophecy is a multiyear project created to raise awareness about the environment and consequences of mass consumption. The series of 13 large-scale photographs, set mostly in Africa, is on view at the Chazen Museum of Art from Oct. 5, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020. This exhibition is the first time the entire series is being shown in the United States.

Confronted with threats of ecological destruction in Senegal, West Africa, photographer Fabrice Monteiro combined storytelling, fashion photography and photojournalism in order to highlight site-specific environmental issues within the context of West African culture and traditional beliefs. The Prophecy depicts djinns—supernatural spirits—emerging from garbage heaps, ravaged forests, motor vehicle exhaust and poisoned waters. Monteiro collaborated with Senegalese fashion designer Doulsy, who created costumes that materially signify each ecological concern. Inspired by African masquerades and evoking high fashion, the designs incorporate tar, garbage, nylon fishing nets, animal remains, firewood, rubber tires and electronic waste.

“Fabrice Monteiro’s photographs are both compelling and devastating,” said Amy Gilman, director at the Chazen Museum of Art. “They confront the viewer with the very real results of climate change, pollution and depletion of natural resources, but they do so in a way that highlights the impacts of these forces outside our American borders. We are proud to share the entire series of photographs for the first time in the United States and look forward to helping other museums bring The Prophecy to their communities.”

Fabrice Monteiro: The Prophecy is organized by Elaine Harris Productions and the Chazen Museum of Art. The exhibition is funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s John E. Sawyer Seminar program, with support of the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“This exhibition is a remarkable way to reinforce the goals of the Sawyer Seminar,” said James R. Wehn, the Van Vleck curator of works on paper at the Chazen. “The figures in The Prophecy give us a way to visualize troubling realities that are nearly impossible to conceptualize from within our personal frames of reference. They show us that economic and environmental choices we’ve made here in America have consequences on landscapes and people thousands of miles away. They demand a different kind of awareness, one with a longerterm, social-minded perspective."

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