Visual artist, filmmaker and documentary photographer Ilse Frech (1972, Amsterdam) is of Dutch-Macedonian descent. She studied Photography (1990-94) at the Royal Academy of Art – KABK, The Hague. Obtained a Master of Arts HES-SO in Fine Arts and Contemporary Artistic Practices, Major Work.Master at HEAD – Genève, the Swiss University of Art and Design (2011-13). By then working internationally since 1995. Selected for World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in 2003, she portrayed Muslim youth in Paris’ banlieues, in a series titled Private Life, for which she received a nomination for the ICP Infinity Award for Documentary and Photojournalism. 2005 Onwards Frech pursued working with Muslim women in Paris’ banlieues, resulting in a solo-exhibition and monograph I Am – Paradox Identity, further a documentary film, I Am. My Islam. My France., a colorful mosaic of five young Muslim women offering an intimate glance through the façade of concrete, premiering at the Institut Néerlandais, Paris – Mois de la Photo 2008. The film was selected for IWAB South-Korea, Incheon Women Artists’ Biennal 2009. Residing in Paris, she worked in Russia during a timespan of two years (2005-2007), creating Nika, Russia LOVE: an essayistic documentary portrait in photography and in video, of Nika and her innercircle of friends; Russian and seropositive (HIV+).

In 2010 Frech realised Zjeitu commissioned by The Rijksmuseum and NRC Handelsblad on behalf of the annual photography commission ‘Document Nederland’, as a result photographs of the project are conserved in The Rijksmuseum’s Photography Collection: Zjeitu, a sultry portrait of the Dutch Antilles, exhibited at De Kunsthal, Rotterdam (2010-11). With its annual commission the Rijksmuseum intends to highlight subjects of relevance to contemporary Dutch society with the aim of documenting history as it unfolds. Sweet Terror of Memory – ΨΙΘΥΡΟΙ (2018, 15′) is a short fiction-, experimental documentary film, a visual poem and triptych of historical- and fictional narrative based upon her Aegean Macedonian mothers’ biography, exile of The Greek Civil War (1946-48), unlocking genealogical heritage of trauma. Sweet Terror of Memory – ΨΙΘΥΡΟΙ had its premiere at the Nederlands Film Festival in Utrecht, September 2018. The film had been selected both for the Short Film Corner, Festival de Cannes in 2018, as well as in 2019 by Visions du Réel Festival International de cinéma Nyon (Switzerland), for its Media Library.

Poems for A Scenario is an assemblage of poetry and prose written by Frech whereupon the filmscript for Sweet terror of Memory was assembled, of which Blank | Hiroshima Mon Amour, was firstly published by Rusted Radishes, the Beirut Literary and Art Journal, issue no. 5/ 2016: ‘The Political City’. Part of Exile: Belonging (2011-14): An artistic research project functioning as a creative space where identity related to political heritage, the imprint of war, exile and trauma, associated with mythology, legend and body-memory are entwined with documentary, re-enactment and fiction translated into audiovisual-installations, video works, photography, performances and poetry. Artist in residence for three months in 2016 at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut – The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, in affiliation with Mondriaan Fund (NL), during which she researched Lebanese war trauma and its multiple carriers of memory, resulting in a twofold outcome: Fugacious Presence, a collaborative, improvisational performance and audiovisual installation, presented at Ashkal Alwan (27/05/16), besides ‘One’, A Letter to Eternity, concept for an interdisciplinary film-& visual art project, one of several projects in progress that Ilse Frech is currently developing and researching.

Frech recently participated in a 3-week Summer Programme at the University of Amsterdam – Graduate School of Social Sciences, “Arcane Worlds: New Frontiers in the Study of Esotericism”, offered in cooperation with the Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, the world’s leading institute for academic research and teaching in the field of (western) esotericism, located at the University of Amsterdam.


Curriculum vitae


2013-2011 Master of Arts HES-SO in Fine Arts, Work.Master – Contemporary Artistic Practices, University of Art & Design, HEAD – Genève, Switzerland. MFA Thesis: Image as Language – Language as Image (2013).

1996-1995 MA Photography (1st year) at St. Joost Academy School of Art & Design – AKV, Breda, The Netherlands

1995-1994 Masterclass Photography, Royal Academy of Art – KABK, The Hague, The Netherlands

1994-1990 BA Photography, Royal Academy of Art – KABK, The Hague, The Netherlands


2018-2017 Cinematography, Camera College Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands

2017 Masterclass Zach Blas at Rijksacademie, Sonic Acts Festival.

2016 Sonic Acts Masterclass Maryanne Amacher Archives: The Mini Sound Series” (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam).

2015 June 4-23 Study Program Art & The Politics of Estrangement at Summer Institute of Art. Direction Warren Neidich and Barry Schwabsky, affiliated with the European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

2011 Masterclass Multimedia Storytelling for Photographers, PhotoStories NFM Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

2003 Joop Swart Masterclass participant; World Press Photo, The Netherlands.


2023 UvA Graduate School of Social Sciences – Summer Programmes: Arcane Worlds: New Frontiers in the Study of Esotericism. The 3-week course is offered in cooperation with the Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, the world’s leading institute for academic research and teaching in the field of (western) esotericism, located at the University of Amsterdam.

2022 Script Academy Scenario Basic Training (6/d), partially supported by The Netherlands Film Fund.

2022 LinC A; Individual learning- & coaching trajectory at the Creative Humanities Academy, University Utrecht.

2022 Interview Training – Camera/Radio (2/d) at Character Training, Hilversum.

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Highlights \\ Events

05-25/October 2023

Chile: Artist-led residency La Wayaka Current – Desert 23°S

La Wayaka Current an international artist-led residency, research- and expedition programmesituated in Northern Chile, in the Atacama Desert. Founded in response to growing concerns towards the ecological-, social- and climate-crisis that we now face, participants take part in a curated programme with as aim to raise awareness about endangered habitats on earth – as places to ignite inspiration, develop ideas and to create new works engaging with pressing issues of our time. The specific programme offered includes cultural encounters, research excursions, guided talks and activities forging to connect artists with the biodiversity in experiential ways, as well specifically addressing the Andean cosmology of the Altiplano; a culture that has developed here over the last 15,000 years. Reflections and conversations are encouraged, bringing forth awareness to complexities and problematics concerning the driest region on earth, with which addressing the context of colonisation, climate change, of which part local extractivism and water-intensive mining.

02-20/July 2023

Summer 3-wk Programme at the University of AmsterdamGraduate School of Social Sciences: Arcane Worlds: New Frontiers in the Study of Esotericism, offered in cooperation with the Centre for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, the world’s leading institute for academic research and teaching in the field of (western) esotericism, located at the University of Amsterdam.

05-13/ April 2019

Sweet Terror of Memory – ΨΙΘΥΡΟΙ is selected by Visions du Réel, Festival International de cinéma Nyon, Switzerland: Visions du Réel Media Library

29/ September 2018

National Premiere: Sweet Terror of Memory – ΨΙΘΥΡΟΙNederlands Film Festival (Utrecht), Official Selection Short Film Programme.

06/ October 2018

European Premiere: Sweet Terror of Memory – ΨΙΘΥΡΟΙ screened at IFF Kinenova, International Film Festival Skopje, North- Macedonia, nominated for the International Short Film Competition.

Further information: previous editions industry catalogue Visions du Réel Festival.



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Contact & ©

Ilse Frech, Visual Art, Film & Photography – FRECHFILMS
Cellphone: +31 (0)6 51 47 52 56


Memberships: VEVAM , DuPho, DDG Profile memberspage.

Ilse Frech © 2024 DISCLAIMER: All images and texts on this website are copyright protected by the author, Ilse Frech. Copyrightholders – other than Ilse Frech, have been specified, when applicable. In case you’d like to refer to my work regarding research of any interdisciplinary field of interest, please send inquiries to  and

The lay-out of each projectpage has been created and assembled by Ilse Frech, copyright-owner and author of all imagery and texts. The color palette is taken from the Architectural Polychromy by Le Corbusier.


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