Running till 25 September, the city wide international photography festival, Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, France offers a huge exhibition and event programme. As always, the 47th Rencontres d’Arles is an observatory of artistic practices. The festival plays an active role in revealing trends and talents.
In the ‘Monsters & Co’ sub-programme, Charles Fréger’s series Yôkaïnoshima comes to the Rencontres d’Arles. The show has received specific funding from the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, furthering the support offered to Charles Fréger for the ambitious research project in Japan that led to this series.
Dedicated to Japanese ritual masked figures, the series immerses viewers in a highly codified bestiary, inspired by the changing seasons, legends and fertility rites that continue to flourish in Japanese society.
Dressed in costumes made of straw or coloured paper, their faces hidden by masks depicting animals, monsters or flowers, some bearing giant wings, the yokaï (spectres) and other oni (monsters) are ancient figures that continue to feature in rites and festivals in rural Japan. The series by photographer Charles Fréger captures these astonishing characters across the changing seasons. Investing the walls of the Eglise des Trinitaires, the images reflect the sub-theme ‘Monsters & Co.’ at the Rencontres d’Arles 2016.
Co-curated by Reiko Setsuda (curator of Le Forum, Tokyo), the show is Fréger’s second outing at the Arles international photography festival, confirming his growing reputation. On coloured walls, a map of Japan accompanies eighty carefully staged portraits of these extraordinary costumed creatures – a fascinating inventory of an ancient but living Japanese tradition. Children can explore the theme of masks through a range of fun activities in a dedicated interpretive space. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, from Actes Sud.
Charles Freger images: (top) ONEONDE NO ODORIKO, Aritate, Fukuejima, Nagasaki Prefecture. Courtesy of the artist. (lower) NAMAHAGE, Ashizawa, Oga, Akita prefecture. Courtesy of the artist.