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Visual Arts

“ICONS”, Photography Project at Lianzhou Foto Festival


Duration: December 2, 2017 to January 2, 2018
Venue: Lianzhou Museum of Photography, Guangdong
Curator: Peter Pfrunder

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Swiss-based artist-duo Jojakim Cortis & Adrian Sonderegger will display their project “ICONS” at Lianzhou Foto Festival, a large -scale global photography festival that is widely regarded as one the most integrated and symbolic event of the field.


“ICONS” is an enticing game played with images from the history of international photography that are frequently cited and revered as icons. The Zurich based artist-duo Cortis & Sonderegger have been working for almost five years on this large-scale photographic project which is captivating in view not only of its concept, but also its diversity and aesthetic force. They build three-dimensional models in their studio, in order to recreate two-dimensional images that have become entrenched in our collective memory. This bricolage involves paper, cardboard, sand, wood, fabric, cotton wool, polystyrene, plaster, cement, paint and a lot of glue. These constructions are then photographed from a particular angle representing two-dimensional images that are astonishingly close to the photographs of the original real scene. The artists do not just restrict themselves to creating an illusion that looks deceptively real. By integrating the studio surroundings into their works, including traces of the production process and the instruments used, the artists constantly indicate that different levels of reality are being intermingled here, and that the illusion is just that, merely an illusion. So the copy of the copy of the copy of reality leads to a vertiginous metaphysical experience that repeatedly confronts the viewer with issues that have to do with perception: What is real? What is genuine? What is true? What does an image do to reality? And can we trust our perceptions?

But “ICONS” is much more than an epistemological dry-run. It is a speculative – highly attractive, imaginative and tongue-in-cheek – way of arousing our curiosity. The artists’ precise and highly detailed photographs offer us the possibility of playing an intricately involved game of discovery and deliberate bewilderment. A game in which one can get lost in the details of the original photograph, while at the same time being encouraged to investigate and decipher the secret of this “making of …” in the studio. Here we have the sacrosanct icon, there the implements and materials apparently left lying around casually, giving the impression that the model-builders have just applied the last brushstroke. As a result, different temporal dimensions clash, the eternalised moment is thrown into question by the provisional temporary installation, the timeless myth broken down to the banal everyday.

Jojakim Cortis & Adrian Sonderegger

Jojakim Cortis was born 1978 in Aachen (D) and has lived in Zurich since 2001. He gained experiences through internships in the studio of photographer Ben Isselstein (D), Torkil Gudanson (USA) and at the agency Walter Schupfer Management (USA). In 2006 he finished his studies at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHDK) and obtained a Diploma of Arts in photography. He has been working as a freelance photographer since 2006 , as well as technical assistance and lecturer at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHDK) since 2009.

Adrian Sonderegger was born 1980 in Bülach (ZH) and has lived in Zurich since 2001. After foundation course in 2001, he studied photography at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHDK) and obtained a Diploma of Arts in photography in 2006. He worked as an assistance for Artist Jules Spinach from 2007-2011 and he lectured at The School for Art and Design Zurich SKDZ from 2010-2011. He has been mainly working as a freelance photographer since 2006. We began our collaborative work during our studies at ZHDK in 2005. Ever since, we have continued our collaboration. We conceive and manufacture surreal worlds in compositions of “staged” photography.



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