Who Do You Think You Are?


from Charles Freger's Wilder Mann project

from Charles Freger’s Wilder Mann project

Last weekend kicked off Liverpool’s second international photography biennial, LOOK/13, with a range of events as a precursor to four weeks of talks, tours, exhibitions, workshops and screenings.

Both emerging and established photographers have been asked to participate in LOOK/13’s Who Do You Think You Are?, and in the age of the ‘selfie’, questions regarding identity and how we view ourselves and others have never been more pertinent.

Charles Freger

Short School Haka, Charles Freger



Luckily the calibre of LOOK/13’s participants is of significantly higher quality than the average, indulgent Facebook profile picture. (Though, if you’ve been experimenting with social media since the Myspace days you’ll be aware that taking perfect casual-but-cool display pictures requires skill bordering on fine art).

This year Open Eye Gallery collaborates with LOOK/13 to bring UK premiere exhibitions by Charles Fréger and Eva Stenram.



from Drape, by Eva Stenram

from Drape, by Eva Stenram

from Drape, by Eva Stenram

Fréger’s work explores the tension between constructed identities and the true self in relation to history and folklore. In photographs selected from his previous Wilder Mann project, unsettling humanoid creatures covered in shiny hair offer an alternative, shared, pre-Christian past of Norse gods and pagan ritual. But these costumes were not designed by Fréger for the benefit of the camera. Over the course of two winters Fréger visited European countries where men dressed as boars, stags and other, more supernatural creatures to celebrate winter, death and the eventual rebirth of spring. Donning such ancient garb is a rite of passage for young men, but this individual event also represents a larger, more inclusive cultural and folkloric identity, and it is this symbiosis that Fréger’s work captures.

In Drape, Eva Stenram confounds voyeuristic expectations by concealing the model’s body with a curtain. Only a leg, stilettoed foot or curved hand peeks form under the curtain, though this is arguably more seductive. Stenram has taken inspiration from vintage pin-ups and the element of striptease is palpable in her work. The mysterious, static subject’s potential to infuriate the viewer who, in a world of readily available pornography expects more, comments on individual desire, at the cost of another’s subjectivity.

Identity Documents, Adam Lee

Identity Documents, Adam Lee

Another intriguing project is Adam Lee’s Identity Objects, a series of still life photographs which examine the importance everyday objects play in shaping our identities. Lee focuses on books; what they say about their owners’ personalities, interests and tastes, or how identities can be created through careful bookshelf curatorship. A quick glance at my own bookshelf is revealing: an entire collection of Tolkien novels line the bottom shelf, yet in the middle, incongruously, sits War & Peace. An attempt at intellectualism to offset my sword and sorcery nerdiness?

'Alive: In The Face Of Death' by Rankin

‘Alive: In The Face Of Death’ by Rankin

LOOK/13 also features the work of renowned photographers August Sander, Weegee and Rankin. The exhibition runs from 17th May till June 15th, so if you’re in Liverpool over the coming months LOOK/13 is worth your attention! You can follow the festival’s happenings on Facebook or tweet @LookPhotoFest.


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