CONCERNED: Dakar-based industrial engineer-turned-model-turned-photographer Fabrice Monteiro uses photography to explore African issues. PICTURE: DIMPHO MAJA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA

A humanitarian and visual artist, Fabrice Monteiro, uses the camera lens to create awareness about environmental and social issues facing Africa and the world. 
This past weekend, Monteiro showcased his latest art at the Absolut One Source Live, an allday festival celebrating the transformative power of African creativity spanning music, fashion, art and photography. 
On Monday, in an interview with The Star, Monteiro said his photography was based on creating a bridge and combining social issues to capture the interest of society. 
The 45-year-old photographer said that, growing up in the West African country of Benin, there was a vast difference in the environment then to what society was exposed to today. 
“At that time we didn’t have such a society of consumption there. We were not using that much plastic and there was not that much pollution. But a kid growing up in West Africa today was born into the kind of situation with trash all over the place. 
“If you don’t teach them that it’s not right and things need to change because things are getting so extreme now, nothing will happen,” said Monteiro. 
Visual metaphors, linking jinn – the spirits revered across West Africa – with man-made environmental disasters are the key aspects Monteiro highlights through his work. The Dakar-based industrial engineer turned model, photographer and visual artist said:
 “Photography was kind of an accident because I had studied industrial engineering. Then I started as a model and did that for 10 to 12 years.” Monteiro said he had no formal training but, through watching other fashion photographers, learnt the tricks of the trade. In 2009, he naturally grew his love for visual art through fashion photography. 
“Very quickly I felt like fashion photography was very empty to me, and I felt like moving on to subjects that I am more concerned about. Which is where I started with the subject of slavery.
“I am interested in original cultures, the Aboriginals, the native Americans, the indigenous in South America, because I believe that is what is rooting us to the important things,” he said. 
Monteiro prefers his Yoruba name Ayedabo Adogun Odo over his Portuguese surname. 
“With this Westernised society, we have lost contact with our original culture.” 
Born from a Benin father, Bruno Monteiro, and Belgian mother, Danielle Monteiro, he considers himself as someone who has been exposed to a range of perspectives when it comes to culture. “I am trying to make useful photography that makes conversation about where we have been and where we are now and, eventually, where we are going from here,” he said. 
Famous for his world wide showcase called the Prophecy, he kicked off in Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Australia and the next step will be in Colombia.
“In the beginning it was about Africa but through the interviews I had previously, I realised people who say I am talking about the situation in Africa. But my goal is not just Africa, but a global thing."
We are facing something that is really going the world in the next 20-30 years, I believe” he said.