Ilse Frech was born in 1972 in Amsterdam, where she grew up. Studied from 1990 to 1994 at the Royal Academy for Fine Arts, Architecture and Music in The Hague. Followed a masters-studies in photography at St Joost Academy in Breda. Worked since 1997 on several photography documentaries and on portraiture of: refugees from Bosnia in the Netherlands, children of traumatised mothers from Tuzla (Bosnia, 2000), series on young Russians infected by HIV (2002) which she continued into a long-term project on a young woman named Nika, whom she’d followed during two and half year, from 2005-2007.
This project is now subject of her second publication to come. A project started in 2001 on the emigration of her own family from Skopje (Macedonia) to Trutnov (Czech Republic) will be prolonged with a multimedia approach of photography and film. Selected in 2003 for Joop Swart’s masterclass for World Press Photo on the theme ‘Enough’. Resided for one year (2005-2006) at the Cité des Arts in Paris, after which she choose Paris as her base to live and work from until 2009.
Since 2000, she has received scholarships from Dutch foundations (Fonds BKVB, Stichting Sem Presser, Stichting Democratie en Media, AFK, Stichting FBJP) which enables her to undertake these projects.
Ilse Frech has received several awards for her series in the Netherlands and in 2003 Charlotte Cotton, former curator of the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Arts) now creative director of National Media Museum in Bradford, UK, nominated her for the ICP Infinity Award (International Center of Photography New York).
She was nominated several times internationally for her project ‘I Am- Paradox Identity’. Her first book of the same project, entitled ‘ I Am- Paradox Identity’, was nominated in 2009 ‘Best 33 Dutch Book Design’ 2008.
The video I Am. My Islam. My France part of the photographic project I Am - Paradox Identity was selected to show on the International Incheon Women Artists' Biennale in Korea in July 2009. The Tuning exhibition, entitled “The 21st Century, The Feminine Century”, and the “Century of Diversity and Hope” (Commissioner: Heng-Gil Han).
She participated at PLAT(T)FORM 10 in 2010, which is a public presented event for emerging artists and photographers, being selected by and taking place at the Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland.
‘I Am - Identités pluri-Elles' was exhibited as 'Guest of Honour' at the Boutographies Photo-Festival in Montpellier, France. In the same period (2010) she was selected for ‘Mission Jeunes Artistes’, France.
Being commissioned by the Rijksmuseum and NRC Handelsblad, The Netherlands, for ‘Document Nederland’ 2010 her work, ‘Zjeitu’, was on show at De Kunsthal in Rotterdam, from September 24th 2010 until January 16th 2011.
Presently following a Master of Fine Arts - WORKMASTER en Arts Visuels - at the HEAD, Haute École D'Art & De Design / University of Art & Design in Geneva, Switzerland.