Wilder Mann by Charles Fréger

I recently discovered these amazing photographs by Charles  Fréger. Every year in Europe, men celebrate the cycle of life and seasons. Metamorphosed as bears, goats, deer or wild boar, straw men, devils or steel jawed monsters, their outfits are made out of animal skins or plants, include bones or belts with bells, hats with antlers or horns. Charles Fréger's photographic portraits highlight these rich traditions.

From Charles  Fréger's journal:
I'm in Austria, finally starting my new project about primitivism: I can not totally explain what I'm looking for, but I think I definitively need to face a certain wildness, in the context of some old communities and their rituals... I have started with the Pechten and Wilder men in Austria. This project will take me in Hungary, Switzerland, East and South of France, Italy and Germany... I feel there is a part of myself dealing with the very codified uniforms of the Empire series, or the Chinese Opera costume, so elegant they are. And then, there is some space for this wildness too...also if the communities I have started to meet have also some complex systems, rituals, a wish to be. On the top of everything, the mask is totally hiding the face. No eyes appearing... Identity has to be found somewhere else. This week, while photographing these communities, I sometime felt that I was doing more a sculptural work than a photographic one... All these materials are fascinating me... Fur, bones. wooden masks... We'll see.


Most of my time in 2010 has been dedicated to the "Wilder Mann" series... I've been running from country to country, in Europe, to photograph our tribes. Was it a quest to find what's wild down there. It all started by drinking too much "Primitivo" wine during the opening of one of my exhibitions. I decided to work on something primitive. Seems that wine made the right effect to me. So, I've been driving, eating some kilometers, from Poland to Greece... Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovenia, Austria... and more; Next week in Spain and Portugal. And a book at the end of the year, if everything goes well. I've learnt a lot from this research and I'm now ready to also create some costume, being a bear myself. There should be a totem animal for me, a mix of bear, elephant and rhinoceros with a touch of mythology from the medusa. Anyway. Wilder mann series soon online and exhibited for real in a few months. More soon.

I did it. Eighteen countries, from Austria to Finland. The Wilder Mann project is probably the biggest photography production I ever did after Rikishi, Empire and Majorettes. Once again, the accumulation of portraits became like a ritual. There's so much to say about this series. A book will be ready early next year. A show will travel in Europe, with a first exhibition in Salzburg, country of the Krampus!