Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery is proud to present Icons, its first exhibition with Zurich-based artist duo Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger.

In Icons, Cortis and Sonderegger have amassed an argument for the validity of material illusion in photography, a take that both references and undermines world history while gleefully derailing the popular icons we think we know, from the very genesis of photography to the brink of the digital era. 

Sourcing imagery from illustrious photographers such as Edward Steichen, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, and Robert Frank, as well as mythic images from pop culture and historical events; Cortis and Sonderegger create an instantly recognizable simulacrum of a narrative. Imagistic catastrophes like the Hindenburg going up in flames and the tsunami of 2004 crashing onto a beachside resort are posited alongside touchstones from the history of photography as in William Eggleston's celebrated dye transfer The Red Ceiling (1973) and Nicéphore Niépce's View from the Window at Le Gras (1826), the oldest surviving photograph.

Deception and illusion, materials mimicking reality, ever at the heart of photography, merge and are magnified in these confounding images. All of the potency and timing and tragedy of these very specific photographs are reduced to ephemeral sculptures in a studio. The photographic setting reveals the construction of the model itself, creating an image inside of an image, and allows for history to be seen from a contemporary perspective. We see the Loch Ness Monster on a sea of cellophane with little more than a spray bottle and a few well-placed lights to recreate the blisteringly cryptic, and also staged, 'Surgeon's Photograph' (1934). A hot glue gun lies poised beneath a model of Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, the glue gun just as important as the flag and the soldier's helmets, a nudging reminder that the means of imagery are just as often the true levers of power.

Just as every iconic photograph has a backstory, Cortis and Sonderegger re-dramatize the performativity of the original photographs, doubling and complicating the meaning of an aesthetic arrangement. With the casual effort and fetishistic detail of Glessner Lee's crime scene maquettes or Thomas Demand's illusory environments, these makeshift reconstructions serve to transform and extend their source material. They are both irreverent and accurate to the point of astonishing detail. Cortis and Sonderegger's images are thus absurdly delightful, surprising, mischievous, and simply fun to look at. They are the types of pictures one can look at forever, pictures of pictures scratched out of thin air, invoking the alchemy of the artists in their atelier, remaking history with invisible hands and some Scotch tape, a wire brush and scissors. 

Jojakim Cortis (b. 1978, Germany) and Adrian Sonderegger (b. 1980, Switzerland) live and work in Zurich. Their collaboration began in 2005 while studying photography at the Zurich University of the Arts. They have been exhibiting internationally since 2007, including shows at the Swiss Foundation of Photography, Winterthur (2018), East-Wing Gallery, Dubai (2016) and Museum Folkwang, Essen (2014). Their monograph "Double Take", published by Thames & Hudson, was released in June, 2018.