Inside the visual delights of masquerade culture with photographer Charles Fréger – CR Fashion Book


Spanning fourteen countries, from Barbuda to Brazil, Cuba to Colombia, Cimarrón: Freedom and Masquerade, the latest book by French photographer Charles Fréger, captures the refined rituals of various indigenous cultures, featuring outfits worn by descendants of African slaves in the Americas. The word Cimarrón is a Spanish-American term for these former slaves and, as the poet Ishmael Reed writes in the book’s preface: “Unfortunately, a Charles Fréger was not there to photograph the ancient art that was destroyed. by vandals. As the mighty power of globalization threatens the existence of the traditions it captured, future generations may have to consult Cimarron as one would with photographs of endangered animals. Thus will continue the museum without walls of Charles Fréger.

Lanmo (La Mort), Cayennes, French Guiana

Charles Fregler

diablos, nuevo capricio, guerrero, mexico
Diablos, Nuevo Capricio, Guerrero, Mexico

Charles Fregler

Fréger, the son of a farmer who studied agriculture before studying fine arts, has been photographing people in uniform since the late 1990s. “Step by step, this appetite that I had brought me deeper and deeper into research into costumes and masquerades,” he says. “I’ve gone from uniforms to more and more theatricality, and I’m really interested in groups that deal with rituals. In turn, Fréger says that his photographic work has become a ritual in itself. “Of course my work relates to an old-fashioned system – almost in a classical way – but in a way my work is also linked to fashion, because I do this research. . . it is always about finding the link between groups, what they have in common and what makes their identity.

Grand Chief, Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans, United States
Grand Chef, Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans, USA

Charles Fregler

toro, montecristi, dominican republic
Toro, (Los Toros y Los Civiles), Montecristi, Dominican Republic

Charles Fregler

cazumbá, são luis, brazil
Cazumbá, São Luis, Brazil

Charles Fregler

Indeed, the work of Fréger is not a fortuitous documentary, it is highly composed and staged, which gives breathtaking, almost surreal images, which constitute a refreshing window on a world that we do not know. not seen on Instagram. The images published here, of ornate masquerades in New Orleans, Guyana, Mexico, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and the United States Virgin Islands, capture “the African American and Native American traditions of over 200 years ago. years, which are mainly based on slavery, ”says Fréger. “These traditions are often attributed to people who resisted colonial aggression – carnivals, religions. You can look at masquerades all over the world as something superficial: they are beautiful, colorful, bling-bling, a performance. But if you start to dig into why such traditions exist, you will understand that it is often because of friction and tension between certain populations. . . how they dance together or how they dance against each other.

john bull, saint cross island, us virgin islands
John Bull, Sainte-Croix Island, United States Virgin Islands

Charles Fregler

lechones, santiago de los caballeriors, dominican republic
Lechones, Santiago de los Caballeriors, Dominican Republic

Charles Fregler