As many other things awesome, it all started with a joke – a rather ironic challenge, if you will, to recreate the world’s most expensive photograph: Andreas Gursky’s Rhein II. Because for commercial photographers Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger, that meant tolling away in their spare time when money wasn’t coming in to recreate a photograph that had just sold for $4.3 million. This was the beginning of Ikonen, an ambitious project to meticulously recreate iconic historical scenes in miniature.
The ongoing project includes immediately recognizable shots—the Wright Brothers taking flight, the Lock Ness Monster poking its head out, “Tank Man” halting tanks during the Tiananmen Square protests—because the images have been seared into our collective memory.
“Every field has its icons, guiding stars, which reflect the spirit of time in form, media and content,” says the photographers. And when something is photographed, it has a way of transcending time rather than becoming isolated. Historical symbolism is fluid and our perception of it can change the same way history can. This, perhaps, is why Cortis and Sonderegger pull away from their miniature scene at the very end, revealing what each photograph actually is: paper, cotton balls, plastic and plenty of their own spare time. Photos shared with permission from the artists.