Togo, 2014

While on his way to photograph the masquerade of the Egungun revenants in Togo, Charles Fréger hears about the Asafo from the Ewe country, an area bordering Togo and Ghana.

The Asafo are legatees of their community’s traditions and are members of a secret society of hunters and warriors in charge of protecting their village. Once an influential militia, they are now a symbolic squadron whose warrior songs, powerful drums and animal sacrifices still command respect today. Armed with knives, hatchets, and powder guns, the Asafos cloak themselves in blue pigments that partially cover their thick cloth costumes and amulets.

Under the watchful eye of the elders and the village witch doctor, they dance during this ceremony where the coffin man, stained with white and blue, emerges from the bush. The only prerequisite for the shooting is that Charles Fréger cannot speak to them directly. They are inhabited warriors and, as soon as the “Asafo” identity is assumed, the ritual imposes this distance.

The dialogue with the Asafo is then played out as in a masquerade. Each one takes on his role, one of photographer, the other of Asafo, with halfway through, an encounter where one becomes a character, projecting oneself into the imagination of the other.