Dystopian dreams: artists draw, design and stage a dark future

Will Worley, for CNN

Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT) November 12, 2015
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Complex, confusing and not always optimistic, African artists have been sharing their visions of the future. Through various mediums they often reflect contemporary issues, and environmentalism is at the top of many agendas. Senegal based photographer Fabrice Monteiro was inspired to shoot 'The Prophecy' after realising the extent of environmental degradation in West Africa. "I grew up in Benin in West Africa in the '80s, and when I came back to the continent four years ago, I was amazed by how much it had changed in 30 years. It had gotten very, very dirty," Monteiro told the International Peace Institute (IPI). Fabrice Monteiro
Monteiro created 'The Prophecy' series in conjunction with Senegalese fashion and costume designer Doulsy ( AKAJah Gal) and NGO Ecofund. Monteiro says "When I came up with "The Prophecy" project, Ecofund introduced me to the former minister of environment Haidar Al Ali. I asked him what were the major environmental issues in West Africa. From there I choose nine topics that I put into images." Fabrice Monteiro
Monteiro is strongly influenced by his diverse background. His mother was from Belgium, and his father from Benin, resulting in a cross continental inspired work flow. He also claims to be inspired by religion, including Voodoo, which hails from his native Benin.The characters in 'The Prophecy' represent genies, acting as a medium between humans and the supernatural. Fabrice Monteiro
"I wanted the stories to talk to children, because in Africa, the adults—they're not really concerned by these problems; they just do their thing," Monteiro told IPI. "I thought that if you could give some enjoyment and sensitivity to kids, that could bring up a new generation that would be concerned about the environment." Fabrice Monteiro
Monteiro believes that young Africans have an important role to play, and are becoming more informed as a result of the internet. He tells IPI: "They know what's going on, and the governments can't fool them anymore. And they're starting to really fight for their rights, and this comes from young people." Fabrice Monteiro
Serge Attukwei Clottey's 'Brief Facts'. In addition to photography, Clottey has also created art installations, sculptures and devised living performance art. Serge Attukwei Clottey
Ghanian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey's 'Principle of Blackness'. Much of his work uses recycled objects, reflecting a concern with environmentalism and the fragility of nature. Serge Attukwei Clottey
'United Energies' by Serge Attukwei Clottey. In addition to his environmentalism, Clottey's work is also heavily politically influenced, highlighting a desire for social justice. Serge Attukwei Clottey
This image is by Nigerian born artist and designer Olalekan Jeyifous. It contributed to his 'Settlements and City-Strategies' exhibit, at Skoto Gallery in New York and Blanc Gallery in Chicago."The series contains abstracted planimetric drawings and eerily-serene cityscapes that suggest the changing contours of urban settlements," says Olalekan Jeyifous. He continues: "They represent an idea of a degenerate futurism, yet one might find similar typologies and scenes in places such as the favelas of Brazil and North Africa, and in overpopulated cities such as Lagos, Mexico City, and Mumbai." Olalekan Jeyifous
Olalekan Jeyifous says: "Though outputted digitally, the drawings possess a textured and painterly quality as a result of combining hand-drawn sketches, industrial textures, surfaces of deteriorated paper, and digital architectural models. A constant interplay between digital and analog processes is important in my work, resulting in a highly layered set of documents. The drawings presented here started out as digital images that were outputted, sketched and drawn over, and scanned back into the computer in order to be retraced, textured, and layered." Olalekan Jeyifous