A graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts de Rouen in 2000, from the start Charles Fréger has organised his work around the representation of the social body, the construction of identity, and the image of the self.
Since 1999, his ‘Photographic Portraits and Uniforms’ have amassed a sizeable corpus of individual and, more occasionally, group portraits, assembled in numerous publications: after his first series, Faire face, his output has included Majorettes (2002), Légionnaires (2002), Bleu de travail (2003), Rikishi (2005) about Sumo wrestlers, and Empire (2009) about royal and republican guards. School, the army and sport: a whole panoply of signs sketching the outlines of the notion of the group and speaking of the desire to forge an identity there.
Uniform and outfit, mask and disguise, costume and garment – each of these second skins imposes a typology that is at once singular and unifying, captured in images that, with Fréger, are usually frontal and full-length.
In his latest publication, Wilder Mann – the Image of the Savage (Thames & Hudson, 2012), Fréger sets out like an anthropologist
to witness the many different forms taken by the Wild Man figure in modern Europe (Wilder Mann in German, Uomo Selvatico in Italian, Homme Sauvage in French). Carnivals, masked rituals, Saint Anthony and Saint Nicholas, Mardi Gras or full moon, the first Sunday of the year and Easter Eve are all moments for celebrating the cycle of the seasons in religious or pagan ways, to conjure up apotropaic figures or fertility symbols. These customs bind civilised humanity to the elfin spirits of untamed nature.