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These Recreations of Iconic Photos Are Incredibly Precise

Can the iconic be replicated?

A couple of Swiss visual artists are dissecting modern iconography. And then they’re putting it back together.

Adrian Sonderegger and Jojakim Cortis’s Ikonen photo series takes important and recognizable photographs and replicates them in a studio setting. Using homemade props and models, the duo has recreated everything from famed Loch Ness Monster photo “Nessie” to the chilling “Abu Ghraib.”


The images they then put out are named “Making of [original photo title here],” show the context of the model in the studio and come with an explanatory caption that tells the history and context around the original photo. It’s a mesmerizing house of mirrors that aims to make the viewer question what makes an image renowned in the first place and whether the iconic can be replicated.

"Making of "Nessie" (by Marmaduke Wetherell, 1934)" Courtesy Cortis & Sonderegger

“We started the project Ikons with Gursky’s “Rhein II,” said Sonderegger. “It was then the most expensive photo ever sold of an [sic] contemporary photographer. The idea was first to copy the most expensive photos. But then we realized that it was too hard. The choice of photos was not wide enough … So we opened up the choice of pictures. Now it’s more a question about if it’s possible to rebuild a model.”

Ikons is still in progress. When they wrap up one day Cortis and Sonderegger hope to publish a book.

"Making of "9/11" (by Sean Adair, 2001)" Courtesy Cortis & Sonderegger

"Making of "The last photo of the Titanic afloat" (by Francis Browne, 1912)" Courtesy Cortis & Sonderegger

"Making of "Abu Ghraib" (by unknown US soldier, 2003)" Courtesy Cortis & Sonderegger