Charles Fréger: Demons, Monsters and Wild Beasts

If you
think that in our completely technocratic society there is no room left for
fairy tales and wild folklore, Charles Fréger will prove you wrong. With his
photographic series Wilder Mann, Fréger explores the mythical traditions at carnivals
and festivals across the Europe. As it turns out, there are much more demons,
monsters, and wild beasts.

Though most
of these festive events have Christian roots, the rituals itself go way deeper
in the pagan times. The dual nature of life was depicted back than with the
help of celebrations and various rites, costumes and masks were usually used to
embody spirits, gods and forces of nature. They are frightening and mysterious,
but at the same time they symbolize circles of live and vitality.

Fréger was trying to capture those unique symbols and traveled to 19 European countries
over two winters. He photographed people in the traditional costumes during the
celebrations; some of them stood for the hunting rituals and sacrifices, some
meant to entertain and imply morals. Whatever concept is, the one thing can be
stated for sure – despite all changes in our modern world, there is still a need
for wilderness. Primal traditions are meant to interact some dangerous or
unexplainable situations, to face the demons, to pray upon the better future;
they have a sacred meaning as well as a psychological power. As men were always
afraid of the unknown, it is better to have a little rehearsal before meeting
the danger face to face.

Traditionally the festivals are the places to burst
out your energy, good one as well as bad. In the past they were considered to
be religious ceremonies, but nowadays they resemble a kind of psychoanalytical
therapy. They offer an opportunity to fulfill the need to have a spiritual
experiences and a feeling of togetherness.

even for the blasé modern eye, these ferine costumes strike the viewer with
scare and superstitious fear. But at the same time, they are mesmerizing; they
symbolize the uncontrolled side of our life, where everything is possible.

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