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We talked to Cortis and Sonderegger, the ingenious duo that recreates history’s most iconic photographs with miniatures

Unless you were abducted by aliens over the last couple of years, it’s highly likely that you’ve seen one way or another the work of Swiss photographers Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger.

Time Magazine, The New York Times, Vice, Buzzfeed, and practically every major news outlet under the sun has covered their ongoing project “Icons”, in which the duo set out to recreate with miniature models the most emblematic photographs in history.

Their partnership started back in 2005 when they were studying photography at Zurich University of the Arts. That fruitful creative collaboration extended to their professional career with their own studio, landing over the years many high profile gigs with clients like Greenpeace and leading cookware manufacturer Kuhn Rikon.

The Hindenburg Disaster, Sam Shere, 1937

Making of ‘The Seven year Itch’, Sam Shaw, 1954

“Icons” started in 2012 both as a joke and as a way to keep themselves busy during downtime. Their first experiment was to recreate Andreas Gursky’s infamous Rhein II, at the time the most expensive photograph ever sold. (a record broken in 2014 by Phantom, by Australian photographer Peter Li)

Armed with cardboard, cotton wool, sand, glue, tin foil paper and many other materials that at first glance would seem more appropriate in a school science fair than in a professional studio, the creative team started to painstakingly recreate with miniatures the most significant photographs in history.

Among their recreations, we can find cultural symbols like Pennie Smith’s cover for London Calling, transcendent historical events like the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center, and decisive moments in the evolution of photography like Niépce’s View from the Window at Le Gras from 1826, the earliest surviving photograph of a real-world scene.

The Artist Hijacking Photographic Clichés to Explore Gender Stereotypes

Sara Cwynar. Red Rose, 2017.
Pigment print mounted on Dibond 30 x 24 in. Artist’s proof 1/2 Collection of David Madee

Sara Cwynar. Tracy (Pantyhose), 2017.
Dye sublimation print on aluminum 30 x 38 in. Edition #1 of 3, Edition of 3 with 2AP

Like any language, photography has given birth to a series of clichés that are reductive at best. At their worst, they become a vehicle for disinformation and stereotype, fueling pathologies by reinforcing the most dangerous aspects of confirmation bias. As Jenny Holzer noted, “Clichés endure” — and may very well exist until we root them out and expose them for the perilous, short-sighted, and sloppy thinking that they are.

Canadian artist Sara Cwynar takes aim at popular photographic clichés in her new exhibition, Gilded Age, on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, through November 10, 2019. Featuring a selection of the artist’s color photographs made over the past five years, the exhibition also includes Kitsch Encyclopedia (2014) her first artist book; Cover Girl (2018), a 16mm film on video with sound; and 72 Pictures of Modern Paintings (2016), a site-specific wallpaper.

Looking back at LGBTQ life, 50 years after Stonewall

KARLA JAY, born in Brooklyn in 1947, is a distinguished professor emerita at Pace University, where she taught English and directed the women’s and gender studies program between 1974 and 2009. A pioneer in the field of lesbian and gay studies, she is widely published.

CHELLA MAN is a 20-year-old, deaf, genderqueer, queer artist currently transitioning on testosterone. “Every day left me exhausted as I performed traditional femininity.” Born in Pennsylvania, he moved to New York to study virtual reality programming at The New School, while creating art on the side. His main focus is to educate others on issues regarding being queer and disabled within a safe space.

Fifty years after the Stonewall Rebellion gave birth to the global LGBTQ Movement, generations have continued the fight for freedom and equality — knowing full well the moment we stop fighting is the moment that all hell breaks loose.

Consider the June 28 report of a Black trans woman who disrupted a drag show at the Stonewall Inn during the 50th anniversary celebration to call out how Pride has been co-opted by corporations even through Black trans women are being murdered — and was threatened with police action in an effort to silence her.

It was a cruel but telling episode of history repeating itself, half a century later at the very place where Gay Liberation began. In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, by homeless LGBTQ teens, trans women of color, lesbians, drag queens, and gay men stood up against a police raid, sparking off a multi-night uprising on the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village.

In the aftermath of Stonewall, hundreds of new LGBTQ civil rights organizations took root across the country and around the world, forcing the U.S. government to change their laws. Though the war has not been won, the battles rage on.

Collier Schorr: Stonewall at 50, currently on view at the Alice Austen House in Staten Island, New York, through September 30, honors those doing the work in a series 15 black and white portraits of intergenerational activists including native New Yorker Karla Jay, an early member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Radicalesbians who famously incited the “Lavender Menace Zap” at the Second Congress to Unite Women in 1970.

Here Jay shares her memories and lessons gleaned on the front lines, which we can use to continue to fight in the name of those who did not make it out alive.

The Photograph That Rocked the Pop Culture Landscape

Peggy Moffitt modeling the topless swimsuit designed by Rudi Gernreich, 1964. Photograph © William Claxton, LLC, courtesy of Demont Photo Management & Fahey/Klein Gallery Los Angeles, with permission of the Rudi Gernreich trademark.

Rudi Gernreich (seated in center wearing black zippered jacket) among fellow artists on the steps of LACMA, 1968. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

On June 16, 1964, Rudi Gernreich’s infamous monokini went on sale in New York’s most prestigious department stores. Buyers at B. Altman & Co., Lord & Taylor, Henri Bendel, Abraham & Strauss, Splendiferous and Parisette placed orders after William Claxton’s photograph of Peggy Moffit rocked the pop culture landscape.

Moffit was Gernreich’s muse and Claxton’s wife, and together this ménage a trios was pure fire. The idea for the monokini first came to Gernreich in December 1962 and first appeared in futuristic fashion feature in a late 1963 issue of Look magazine — after LIFE refused to publish them. In The Rudy Gernreich Book, Moffit recalls the editor at LIFE shamelessly told Claxton, “This is a family magazine, and naked breasts are allowed only if the woman is an aborigine.”

LIFE’s racist policy about women’s bodies cost them one of the biggest news stories of the year. They “goofed” Moffitt politely says. The magazine ordered a reshoot, demanding Moffitt cover her breasts with her arms. Moffitt described their art direction as “dirty.”

Photographer makes art more accessible with new gastronomic photo series

P Gerard Barker brings artworks into a non-gallery setting to make art more accessible to the public.

The British photographer uses old-school cameras, smartphones, and apps to create unique compositions that encourage the viewer to look just a little longer, discovering more about the piece as they dissect its layers.

Documentary photographer Alegra Ally reflects on cultural adaptation, indigenous motherhood and ancient traditions

Alegra Ally is an award-winning ethnographer and documentary photographer who has dedicated her life to using film, photography and writing to document the traditional practices and beliefs of indigenous women as part of The Wild Born Project.

From living in caves with the remote Meakambut tribe of Papua New Guinea, to witnessing the birthing rituals of the isolated ovaHimba people of Namibia, Ally’s work has taken her across the globe – and a long way from her native Israel.

Ally’s latest project took her to the Yamal Peninsula in Northwest Siberia to live with a family of nomadic Nenets as they follow ancient migration paths, herding reindeer for thousands of kilometres across the Arctic.

This new short film is celebrating 50 years of Pride

“What was it actually like to be at Stonewall 50 years ago? How is being a 21-year-old trans person different today than it was then?” asks the creators behind the new film, Connecting 50 Years of Pride. In honour of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, Airbnb has partnered with SAGE – an organisation dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ older community – to produce a series of conversations with 10 LGBTQ+ elders to discuss these questions, and to find out what Pride means to them.

Sam Gregg documents the true story of Naples

Whether its the slums in Klong Toey, Bangkok, or Britain filled with “greasy spoons” and “pie and mash shops”, London-based Sam Gregg is a portrait and documentary photographer drawn towards capturing marginalised and dispossessed communities.

Through honest and captivating imagery, Gregg encompasses his environment by fully immersing himself in his surroundings. Over the years he’s formed a body of work that’s full of impactful stories and narratives – so enlightening, so vulnerable and so empowering that it’s hard to witness any of his collections come to an end.

Within See Napes and Die, his ongoing project that began in 2016, Gregg travels to four of central Naples’ most historically rich yet volatile areas: Rione Sanità, Quartieri Spagnoli, Forcella and Santa Lucia. With an aim to “humanise the city’s plight” while “showing that those who are affected are tangible human beings before they’re political units” – says Gregg in the summary, the series is a response to the media and its glamorisation of Naples’ negative image.

‘Selfie Harm’: experiment shows what’s problematic about editing apps

In his series, entitled Selfie Harm, photographer Rankin highlights the pitfalls of tech and social media with regards to our self-esteem and mental health.

Made in collaboration with agency M&C Saatchi and MTArt Agency, the project involved asking teens aged from 13 to 19 years old to retouch their selfies based on what they deem as beautiful, before posting those edited images online.

Haley Morris-Cafiero parodies her body-shaming bullies

Haley Morris-Cafiero, Fake Waist Girl, The Bully Pulpit

Haley Morris-Cafiero, Body Builder, The Bully Pulpit

Nine years ago, American photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero embarked on a social experiment. She set up a camera on a tripod in a busy public area – Times Square, New York, to be exact – and photographed herself as she performed mundane tasks. Strangers passed her by and, among the thousands of images taken, she noticed that there were some questionable smirks made by those around her: body shaming, caught on camera.

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