Cortis & Sonderegger

Updated: May 27, 2019

Double Take

C/O Berlin


photo: NZ

Robert Capa’s falling soldier in the Spanish Civil War, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photo of a man leaping over a puddle at Gare Saint-Lazare, Man Ray’s surrealist female body and violin, Nosferatu’s shadow in F. W. Murnau’s classic silent film, the footprint of the first man on the moon, and the World Trade Center in flames: every one of these symbol-laden scenes and iconic images is engraved deep in our collective memory. They are among the most important and widely discussed pictures in the history of film and photography. Artist duo Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger have been working since 2012 on the long-term project Icons, in which they reconstruct world-famous photos in detail as three-dimensional dioramas, models in miniature, and then photograph the scenes again, complete with all the equipment and materials—cardboard, plaster, glue, synthetic fiber, and sand. With their meticulous model-building and masterful sculptural constructions, the artists raise questions: Is it real? Or a proxy? Their photos are as captivating as they are perplexing, not just for the accuracy and ingenious staging of the reconstructions, but also because Cortis and Sonderegger use humor to expose photographic illusions by incorporating the studio setting into the photographs. Their photos engage in a sophisticated play between photographic truth and manipulation. In a time of intense debate over the authenticity of images and “alternative” and false facts, the works of Cortis and Sonderegger call us to reexamine and question the truthfulness of photography. At the same time, Icons is an ironic, entertaining reflection on photography as a medium that lays claim to reality but is a product of the media. Sharpening our senses and honing our vision: Cortis and Sonderegger share this understanding of their artistic project.