la fabrique des monstres

noemie castella

Animated film on the costumes of the monsters of Swiss folklore

In Switzerland, in the remote valley of Lötschental, in the canton of Valais, a tradition with mysterious origins takes place every February between Candlemas and Mardi Gras.

Men hide their faces behind masks carved out of wood that represents a grimacing figure. They wear a heavy animal skin garment raised above their shoulders which gives them an impressive stature. They go out during the night to frighten those unfortunate enough to cross their path. They are the Tschäggättä. However, beyond the festive parade, the wearing of these costumes, which only young men wear, fulfils a predetermined mission; before 1950 they were supposedly used to win the heart of a young woman. In fact, they conceal acts of violence against martyred village women, with impunity and under the guise of tradition.

The festival has undergone many changes over the years, leaving the locals struggling with their desire to follow the tradition as it was originally and their desire to modernise it. The Monster Factory explores this tension through the creation of masks and costumes, which have been used to oppress women for generations.

The Monster Factory is a fragment of Noemi Castella’s research on Swiss folkloric costumes of monsters, which here takes the form of a film. Through a tale where animation is mixed with images shot in the Valais, leaving room for the strange and the fantastic, the story, inspired by real events, is about the first woman to have reappropriated the tradition in order to create her own mask to try to alleviate the violence of the men towards the women in her village. The challenge of this research is to examine how the claim of women in the Lötschental to learn the technique of woodcarving is a political act.

© Noemi Castella
© Noema Castella

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Noemi Castella (CH)

Noemi Castella est née en 1997 à Lausanne, en Suisse. Son travail enquête sur des questions sociopolitiques à travers la fiction et la narration en utilisant différents médiums tels que la vidéo, le son, l’animation, la confection d’objets artisanaux et le dessin. Diplômée du Bachelor en Arts Visuels de la Haute école d’art et de design de Genève (HEAD) en 2018 et du Master Espace et Communication de la Haute école d’art et de design de Genève (HEAD) en 2021. Elle obtient son diplôme de Master avec mention Excellent ainsi que le Prix d’Excellence de la HES-SO dans le domaine Design pour son travail de recherche sur les monstres folkloriques suisses.

Crédits & mentions

Écrit, filmé et monté par Noemi Castella.

Animation : Théo Remlinger et François Leroch.