In 2012, Swiss based artists Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger presented themselves with a challenge; to recreate some of the world’s most iconic images in their studio. Trawling through books filled with history’s most memorable photographs, the duo used optical tricks to reproduce what seemed impossible to duplicate – a series of iconic moments that changed world perspective – events which often resulted in creative or political rebellion. What began as a joke between the two artists, has now developed into a compelling, ongoing series involving both in-depth research and a sense of play in the manufacture and re-staging in miniture of these pivotal events in time.
Carefully considering the conditions in which each original image was made, the artists meticulously mimicked these same methods in their studio; using scale models and paying close attention to the lighting and vantage point of the camera in an attempt to literally ‘re-make’ these events, ranging from the crash of the Hindenburg and the supersonic passenger jet Concorde, to the last photographic of the Titanic and the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima. They also expanded their challenge to include important moments in the history of photography, remaking images by Man Ray, Ansel Adams and Andreas Gursky.
In their final compositions, Cortis & Sonderegger pull the camera back to reveal their studio and working methods exposing the backstage, the ‘making of’ aspect of their craft. By including the debris of their constructions (paint, glue, cotton wool, etc.) the artists present an image within an image – leaving the viewer unbalanced between the remake of the past and the artist’s studio environment of the present.
Cortis & Sonderegger also look for ways to ‘outwit and question the documentary aspect’ of photography. It is important for them that their photographs are seen as completely transparent forgeries with no additional digital ‘tricks’ (they use Photoshop only to adjust contrast). For them, these Icons are straightforward studio productions and not digital compositions; the inner image is the historical moment, while the outer background makes a snapshot of the present. Their aim is not to mislead the viewer – instead, they want to fully expose the staging process in order to raise questions in the mind of their audience about the temporal nature of experience and memory.
Jojakim Cortis (b. 1978) & Adrian Sonderegger (b.1980) have lived and worked in Zurich, Switzerland since 2001. They began collaborating during their studies at Zurich University of the Arts in 2005.
Exhibited by East Wing Gallery.