Cortis & Sonderegger
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.
The exhibition Cortis & Sonderegger . Double Take is the result of a collaboration between C/O Berlin and Fotostiftung Schweiz. It is accompanied by a book of the same name, published by Lars Müller Publishers, Zurich (German) and Thames & Hudson (English).
(b. 1978, Aachen, Germany) is a freelance photographer and university lecturer. Cortis has been living in Zurich since 2001. In 2006, he completed a degree in photography at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), where he began collaborating with Adrian Sonderegger and has been working as a technical assistant and lecturer since 2009.
(b. 1980, Bülach, Switzerland) is a freelance photographer and university lecturer. Sonderegger has been living and working in Zurich since 2001. He studied photography at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) along with Jojakim Cortis. He worked as an assistant to artist Jules Spinatsch from 2007 to 2011.
Cortis & Sonderegger’s works have been shown at festivals and in museums worldwide. They work together as university lecturers at various art schools.