Informed by the critical environmental problems that plague many parts of the African landscape, photographer Fabrice Monteiro, costume designer Doulsy and the Ecofund organization have collaborated on a harrowing series of photographs. (Fabrice Monteiro)
The costumes designed by Doulsy for the surreal figures in The Prophecy series were partially made from garbage found at the site. (Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy, Untitled #2 / Courtesy Mariane Ibrahim)
Monteiro said he was shocked by the debris he found on the shoreline of West Africa when he returned home after 20 years abroad. (Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy, Untitled #3 / Courtesy Mariane Ibrahim)
Fabrice Monteiro posed this djinni in a trash-burning dump to show the disturbing effects of Senegal’s pollution. (Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy, Untitled #6 / Courtesy Mariane Ibrahim)
Collaborating with Ecofund and Doulsy, Monteiro chose ten locations for photo shoots. (Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy, Untitled #9 / Courtesy Mariane Ibrahim)

Spectacular High Fashion Rises From a Landscape of Trash

Photographer Fabrice Monteiro conjures the specter of environmental ruin

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When Fabrice Monteiro returned to his native West Africa after 20 years abroad, he longed to go surfing. But old fishing nets matted the shoreline; blood from slaughterhouses gushed into the sea; plastic bags festooned the trees like black leaves. “It was a shock for me to find how polluted everything had become,” the photographer says. To spotlight Senegal’s gravest ecological problems, Monteiro teamed up with Ecofund, an environmental group, for a series of photographs starring a “djinni,” or supernatural genie, warning of mankind’s folly in a way that local children might also understand. This djinni, wearing a costume by the Senegalese fashion designer Doulsy using garbage layered according to the time it takes to decompose, looms over a vast trash-burning site outside Dakar where 1,300 tons of waste are deposited each day. The djinni looks away from the camera—toward, depending on your view, a greener horizon, or a smoking abyss.

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