Cimarron by Charles Fréger
Reading time: about 5 minutes
About this series
Cimarron is the third part of a photographic series begun in 2010 by Charles Fréger and dedicated to masquerades; after Wilder Mann (2010-), dedicated to the European continent, and Yokainoshima (2013-2015, Thames & Hudson), located on the Japanese archipelago, Cimarron (2014-2018) is anchored in the territories of the Americas and explores masks, costumes and characters created by the descendants of Africans and indigenous peoples in the Americas.
All across the Americas, from the 16th century onwards, enslaved Africans escaped their captors and struck out on their own. These runaways, having found their freedom, established their own communities or joined with indigenous peoples to forge new identities.
Cimarron, borrowing a Spanish-American term for these fugitive former slaves. From Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean islands and Central America, as far as the southern USA, elaborate masquerades are staged that celebrate and keep alive the memory of African slaves and their descendants. Stock characters are portrayed in costume, or in grotesque or satirical representations. A huge variety of African tribal dress, wild ritual regalia and shimmering Mardi Gras outfits feature in breathtaking succession. Vividly coloured silks and cottons combine with woven fibres, leaves, feathers, and bodypaint; props include emblems of slavery and slavemasters – ropes, sticks, guns and machetes. These photographs record real people whose collective sense of memory, folk history and imagination dramatically challenges our expectations. And on top the photo book has enough information to please someone who wants to know about the traditions, or for someone who wants to have an overview.
Charles Fréger is a photographer based in Rouen, France. Internationally acclaimed for his subtle and poetic portraiture, he has devoted himself to the representation of social groups.
Charles Fréger’s work has established a large and growing following among connoisseurs of contemporary photography, defining a new genre of documentary portraiture that extends and deepens our sense of the human past and the present.
Photographer: Charles Fréger
Thames & Hudson: Cimarron
Photos copyright Charles Fréger
DRAWLIGHTS | 1/1 – one post/one photographer, weekly. Off-chain and on-chain. By Peter Nitsch, lens-based artist, a member of Jenny Metaverse and lifetime Member of the Royal Photographic Society of Thailand.