The work of French photographer Charles Fréger (1975) is considered groundbreaking in the complex genre of contemporary portraiture. In extensive series he portrays individual members of social groups – be it sports clubs, army corps or professional guilds – who demonstrate their affiliation to the specific collective through external signs such as uniforms, headdress, make-up, posture or even their body shape (in the case of Sumowrestlers or Foreign Legionaires). In his work Fréger explores the extent to which organised communities melt into a single collective body and carefully studies and reflects the interplay between individuality and social affiliation. Fréger's series Empire is a long-term project (2004 – 2007) comprising portraits of a wide variety of elite troops across Europe, mostly Republican or Royal Guards, who stand out due to their historical and very colorful uniforms as to the draconic protocolary rule common in such units. Empire was presented at the Rencontres d'Arles 2008.

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