Europe's Wild Men
French photographer, Charles Fréger toured eighteen countries from Austria to Finland to produce The Wilder Mann project. This fascinating series of photographs, which took Fréger several years to research and shoot, explores the human fascination with myth, ritual and tradition.
Shot amongst nature, Fréger took tradition out of context, portraying his subjects as the mythological figures in which their traditions are based upon. Celebrating the seasonal cycle; fertility, life and death, Fréger's subjects become Boes on the Eve of St. Anthony, frightening St. Nicholas and the Burryman. Equal parts mesmerizing, comical, and scary, these wild beings come to life in his art.
Extraordinarily beautiful and incredibly detailed, these photographs will delight you.
The Wilder Mann exhibition showed at The Gallery at Hermès in New York earlier this year and is now available as a book to buy here.
Spring festivals in the Pyrenees feature local men playing the role of bears awakening from hibernation.
During Carnival in Lazarim characters called “caretos” parade through the village in hand-carved masks to a bonfire where effigies known as thecomadre and compadre are burned.
Every five years the men of Telfs collect lichen to create Wilder Mann, or Wild Man, costumes for the town’s Carnival festival. Tradition dictates that they nibble on a piece of this lichen before the festivities.
Schnappviecher (snapping beast) on Shrove Tuesday
When jolly St. Nicholas visits the villages of Vysočina, he is joined by someone dressed as Smrt, or Death, whose scythe catches sinners.
Stag on New Year’s Day
Bear at the Festival of the Bears
Macidulas on New Year’s Day
Zezengorri at Carnival
Sauvage at Carnival
Strohmann at Carnival
Boes on the Eve of St. Anthony
Krampus on St. Nicholas’s Eve
In the village of Nedašov, devils join the retinue of St. Nicholas to frighten children into being good.
Thousands of burrs adorn the Burryman. The man who plays the role at the Ferry Fair in Queensferry must collect all the burrs himself. Once dressed, he walks the town, accepting offers of money and whiskey and bestowing good luck.
On Christmas Eve Pelzmärtle appears in the village of Bad Herrenalb with the Christkind (Baby Jesus) to scold naughty children and rap them with a stick. The straw costume is sewn on to the wearer.
On New Year’s Day men cover themselves with goatskins to impersonate the Kukeri, who both embody and chase away evil spirits. In the past they’d brush against women to bestow fertility.
Juantramposo, a mischief-maker, appears on Mardi Gras in Alsasua. The festival ends with all the participants taking part in a celebratory dance.