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.