The transformation of man into beast is a central aspect of traditional pagan rituals that are centuries old and which celebrate the seasonal cycle, fertility, life and death.
Each year, throughout Europe, from Scotland to Bulgaria, from Finland to Italy, from Portugal to Greece via France, Switzerland and Germany, people literally put themselves into the skin of the ‘savage’, in masquerades that stretch back centuries. By becoming a bear, a goat, a stag or a wild boar, a man of straw, a devil or a monster with jaws of steel, these people celebrate the cycle of life and of the seasons. Their costumes, made of animal skins or of plants, and decorated with bones, encircled with bells, and capped with horns or antlers, amaze us with their extraordinary diversity and prodigious beauty.
Work on this project took photographer Charles Fréger to eighteen European countries in search of the mythological figure of the Wild Man: Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Poland, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Croatia, Finland, Romania and the United Kingdom.
Charles Fréger is recognised as one of Europe’s leading young photographers. Based in Rouen, France, his work has been devoted almost exclusively to portraiture. He has published many previous books including Légionnaires Portraits photographiques et uniformes and Empire.