An entire space dedicated to the charming magnificence and strength of « Signares », this ode to female liberation by the artist photographer Fabrice Monteiro presented until July 31, 2021 at the Galerie Magnin-A in Paris.
The contemporary photographer Fabrice Monteiro salutes the experiences and strength of Senegalese women who use fashion for socio-political and monetary purposes. A kind of staging of this eminence and abundance that are valued in the trimmings. These hairstyles through these amazing scarves and refined outfits, to the shoes and occasionally the tinkling of gold bracelets.
« Signares », coming from the Portuguese « senhoras », designated the young ladies of brown or mixed race of the Petite-Côte du Sénégal, in the trading posts of Rufisco in the 17th century, then of Gorée and Saint-Louis until the middle of the 19th century. This Frenchization of the Portuguese word « senhoras », which means « dame », refers first of all to those African women who, living in concubinage with influential Europeans, obtained financial strength and a high social status.
These ladies existed since the end of the fifteenth century all along the western coast between Senegal and Cap des Palmes. Over time, this name was applied to any woman who acquired a specific reputation either through her mixed race or her trading skills, or often both.
However, the « Signares » were opposed, during the different periods of occupation, to the leading representatives and officials who put their strength and advantages to the test.
They were known for their charming magnificence and wealth, which they skillfully developed. In some cases, even with relationships that usually lasted the time of the visit of the spouse, who occasionally brought quick material benefits, but left after his departure house, slaves and funds to make productive.
With the time, they adopted endogamic unions to support their way of life and to safeguard the capital collected from the mother to the daughter for more than a few years while keeping an existence of autonomy far from the patriarchal domination.
In fact, even today, the « Signares » exert a solid force of impact among the general public.
A descendant of Brazilian slaves, Fabrice Monteiro is an Agouda born of a Beninese father and a Belgian mother. Having lived his childhood in Benin, he started a profession became a model after his studies in mechanical design. He currently lives and works in Dakar.
It is during his vocation as a model that he discovered photography, and following his meeting with the New York photographer Alfonse Pagano that he developed his skills as a studio photographer.
Today, behind the camera, his work is at the crossroads of photojournalism, style photography and living crafts. A way for him to draw the mixture of his starting points and the balancing act between fascination and rejection, reinforcement and renunciation, recognition and indignation, a solitary look at the lived experience that shows its crossbreeding.
Fabrice Monteiro has made portraiture his medium of choice and in each of his series, he situates a solid issue concerning the African continent, he addresses questions of society, politics, religion and identity.
Here and there, recommending those disturbing dreams of a world choked by waste in his series « The Prophecy », he questions the crystal of character and investigates generalizations through his series «8 Mile Wall ». The latter is animated by a discussion he had in his youth with his father, and which pushes him today to deconstruct these automatisms of contemplations made of subtleties of good taste.