30th Oct 2015 to 23rd Dec 2015
About The Exhibition
Mask is a two-person exhibition which looks at the relationship between photography and the mask in the context of the traditional masquerade festival.
Contemporary photographers, Charles Fréger (FR) and Axel Hoedt (DE) have both spent a number of years photographing European masquerade traditions. While the practices depicted broadly represent familiar themes – human relationship to nature, the cycle of the seasons, fertility, life and death – the diversity of personae and rituals documented, and the quiet, almost surreal way that they have been photographed, shed new light on an ancient subject.
Dusk documents Axel Hoedt’s journey through the carnival culture of southwestern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Festival revelers are photographed in earnest poses, static against a bright background, in a forest or next to rural buildings. Hoedt juxtaposes classic studio photography, Polaroid snapshots and still-life imagery.
Charles Fréger has photographed in villages and regions throughout Europe to capture the great range of costumes and rituals associated with the myth of the ‘wild man’. Half man, half beast, Fréger’s Wilder Mann manifests as demons, devils, bears, goats, wild boars, stags and straw men, as well as strange, hybrid figures.
In the context of high-speed, high-tech contemporary life, Mask reveals our continued fascination with, and desire for the ancient, the primal and the authentic. As Sean O’Hagan put it in his review of Charles Fréger’s photobook of the same work: ‘That the "wild man" is flickering back into life surely tells us something about our need for myth, ritual and tradition. Or our need for spectacle, which, increasingly, seems all that remains of the once-powerful symbols conjured up by our collective imagination to keep darkness at bay’.