Wilder Mann

The Image of the SavegeWildermann_000
“Of course, you can wade through a million websites about Paris Hilton, but you can also find an almost equal number of places discussing, analysing or promoting extraordinarily old-fashioned or backwards-leaning pursuits: pilgrimage, Druidism, shamanism, nomadism, transhumance, land-living”. Writes Robert McLiam Wilson in his introduction to Charles Fréger’s fascinating photobook.

How do you prefer people to look at and experience your photographs, at an exhibition, online, in a book?
Whit their eyes.
So it doesn’t matter as much?
No. it’s always better to open a book than to go to a show, for sure. Always better. The book is right tool. It was really made for a book. I always think of my projects in books: I want to do a book about that, so then I start to do the project.[1]

The history of European masks begins in the late Paleolitic Age and continues during antiquity and the Middle Ages. This is attested by wall paintings, documents from antiquity and the diatribes of the Church Fathers. Today the mask is still used during winter festivals, often organised in the honour of a saint, on the occasion of carnivals celebrated before Lent and at rather punctual events (funerals, transhumance) or in theatre performances (Commedia dell’Arte).
Even if each of them is unique, by taking a closer look, we can notice similarities between the European traditions, for example, concerning the characters (Bears, Goats, Horses, Devils), the masquerades (fire, elements from agriculture, marriage) and materials (fur, bells, straw). Preferences for one or another of these elements are connected with the history, the landscape and the activities of the people living in the different regions: bells and fur for the shepherds, straw and masquerades inspired by agriculture in the case of the farmers, noble materials used by the middle-class of the cities. Certain facts can also be explained by “import”: the masquerade of the Bear trainer has developed along the routes of the roving performers. A similar case is that of the characters of the Commedia dell’Arte which can be found in many different places.[2]

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