Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

2016 Winner

Shpilman Photography Prize Awarded to Servet Kocyigit

Servet Kocyigit Wins the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography 2016
Servet Kocyigit Wins the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography 2016
© Photo: Beverley Pestana Inacio

Out of fifty artists nominated by art professionals from sixteen different countries, the SIPEP2016 Committee has selected the Turkish artist Servet Kocyigit as the SIPEP2016 winner and awardee of the 45,000 US$ prize. Mentions of Honor were also given to: Marion Belanger (USA), Richard Moss (Ireland), David Adika (Israel), and Alec Soth (USA). The Prize was dedicated this year to issues of locality, of the relation between the work of art and its affiliation with certain geography.

Born in 1971, Kocyigit lives and works between Istanbul and Amsterdam. Many of Kocyigit's works deal with different experiences of foreignness, immigration and identity construction, in an era where the difference between free movement and forced-movement is at the base of the global human condition. Kocyigit's new work, which was presented to the committee, was outstanding in its visual quality and conceptual depth. The artist traveled to South Africa trying to capture something of the complex history of natural resource exploitation in the continent by Western companies and countries. This he does through a local group of actors, staging dramatic situations out in the open landscape.

SIPEP2016 committee selected Kocyigit due to his courageous treatment of complex issues that are not limited to his own biography; his ability to mix documentation and fiction through alternative narratives without compromising historical truth; his ingenious artistic liberty, demonstrated through the combination of photography, video art and performance; and his fresh approach toward the subject of the gaze and the encounter with otherness that stimulates both ethical and aesthetical discourse in contemporary art and culture.

The jury members of SIPEP2016 were: Virginia Heckert, Curator and Head of Photographs in the Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Sebastian Cichocki, Chief curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; Dr. Gal Ventura, associate professor at the Department of Art History, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem; and Dr. Noam Gal, Curator and Head of the Department of Photography, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The official ceremony will take place at the Israel Museum, on March 2nd, 2017.

2014 Winner


In 2010 The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (IMJ) proudly announced the creation of the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography, awarded every second year.
This new prize was initiated In recognition of photography as a leading contemporary cultural medium, by the Shpilman family and the Shpilman Institute for Photography together with the Israel Museum, with the joint objective of cultivating original work in the field of photography. The prize, in the amount of $ 45,000, is awarded once every two years based on the review and decision of an international jury comprised of five acclaimed professionals.

One of the most generous prizes in the field of art photography worldwide, the Shpilman Prize aims to support contemporary photographic projects relating to questions of the current human condition and the world of art within it.
Eligible applicants are artists working with photography, or photographers working in or around the art-world, whose most recent or in-progress work relates to a given theme each award year. This year we invite submission of projects relevant to the broad theme "Mirrorlike".

Mirrorlike is a colloquial term which denotes proximate identity as well as the difficulty in making distinctions between original and copy. The term may reflect the elements of photography as a leading medium of expression in modernity, or the current ontological issues of photography through its functions in digital imaging and communication. Even if semantically adjacent, "Mirror" and "Like" are polaric terms in various visual cultures, from the inception of photography in mid-19th century Europe and the confusions with the 'real' it had generated (and still generates), up to the most common gesture of affirming spectatorship and reception in global social networks. While "mirror" is historically tied to issues of artistic representation, "Like" has recently turned into a collectible, transferring new meanings of self-imaging and self-appreciation. "Mirror" and "like", once bound, reciprocate as two sides of the looking glass, but at the same time, they together may mean that something is (only) apparently identical, or, alternatively, resembles a mirror. Therefore, this term can be widely and variedly associated with the field of vision and the status of the visual in the age of photography, up to its most advanced digital phases.

The Shpilman Prize is open to all regardless of race, nationality, religion or gender. Applicants should have already accomplished a significant body of work and acquired professional credentials. By accepting the prize, the winner will agree to collaborate with the Israel Museum in publishing the winning project in the form of an exhibition, a publication, an event or other appropriate forms.

Shpilman Photography Prize Awarded to Lisa Oppenheim

Based in New York, Lisa Oppenheim works in experimental photography and her projects derive directly from original research in the social history of the medium. She revives obsolete techniques and materials, transposing them into a personal engagement with episodes from modern history and creating unusual constellations of past and present, analogue and digital, initial idea and final object. Though her works express the current interest of art photographers in the material and historical aspects of the medium, the role of chance and uncertainty is also strongly felt in them. In her art, the working process is as visibly present as the ultimate outcome.
Oppenheim was selected from among more than 150 outstanding applicants from all over the world. Her unique artistic practice, typically treating found photographic materials in a strikingly playful and intelligent way, reflects a profound commitment to the potentials of history and art and their interaction. Oppenheim's choice of subjects – including the future project she presented in her application for the Prize, "Imprint (Shroud of Turin)" – promises the perpetuation of this fascinating artistic path. The Israel Museum is honored to encourage the continuation of Oppenheim's exceptional and internationally recognized work.

We extend our thanks to Monika Faber, Founder and Director of Photoinstitut Bonartes, Vienna; Quentin Bajac, Chief Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Ruth E. Iskin, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev; and Galit Eilat, Co-Curator of the 2014 Bienal de São Paulo, who joined Noam Gal, Curator of the Israel Museum's Photography Department, as members of the 2014 Shpilman Prize jury.

2012 Winner

Shpilman Photography Prize Awarded to John Jacob

John Jacob, Photo by Friedrich Nill, Salzburg, 2012

Jerusalem, October 21, 2012 – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, has awarded John Jacob with the second Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography. Selected from over 50 proposals from candidates in 15 countries by a jury of leaders in the field, Jacob will receive $45,000 to support his original theoretical project "Reliquum: That Which Remains," which will investigate the lingering material presence of the past throughout the history of photography and which he then plans to develop into a publication. Jacob was nominated by Dr. Monika Faber, Director of the Photoinstitut Bonartes in Vienna, Austria.

The Shpilman Prize Committee, which selected Jacob as this year's Shpilman recipient, was comprised of a jury of international experts in the field of photography, including:

• Nissan N. Perez (Chair), Horace and Goldsmith Senior Curator, Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
• Prof. Dana Arieli-Horowitz, Dean of the Holon Institute of Technology, Holon, Israel
• Prof. Hanan Laskin, Founder of the Photography Department at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and academic advisor to art schools and cultural institutions in Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel
• Prof. Dr. Bodo von Dewitz, Deputy Director, Curator, Department of Photography, Museum Ludwig, Köln, Germany
• Anne Wilkes Tucker, Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA

The members of the jury also awarded honorable mentions to two runners-up — British artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, and Italian scholar Dr. Katia Mazzucco—whose proposals the jury deemed of special relevance to current artistic and theoretical research.

About the winner
John Jacob (b. 1957) began his career as an artist and freelance curator, working mostly in Eastern Europe and the FSU. In 1992, he was appointed director of exhibitions at Boston University and a year later, executive director of the Photographic Resource Center. From 2001 to 2003, Jacob worked as an adjunct professor of fine arts at the College of the Atlantic, Bar Arbor, Maine. In 2003, he was a founding director of the Inge Morath Foundation in New York City. In 2011, he joined the Magnum Foundation as director of Legacy Programs, developing projects and partnerships related to Magnum's estate members. Jacob works as a consultant to museums, archives, and artists' estates worldwide and has contributed to a number of books and other publications.

John Jacob summarized his prize-winning theoretical research project as an exploration of photography's performative qualities, using Roland Barthes's theories of photography as a framework. Jacob will pay particular attention to vernacular images, including spirit photographs, tintype portraits, and found pictures.

2010 Winner

heiman Michal

Jerusalem, September 8, 2010 – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, has selected artist Michal Heiman to receive the first Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography. Created in partnership with the Israel Museum, the new biannual prize aims to catalyze and support international research projects exploring theoretical and practical issues in photography. Ms. Heiman was selected from a pool of thirty-five finalist candidates from nine countries by a jury of leaders in the field—including Peter Galassi, Chief Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Marta Gili, Director of the Jeu de Paume, Paris. Ms. Heiman will receive $40,000 to support her newly conceived project investigating the contribution of art to psychoanalysis, and vice versa.

Michal Heiman (b. 1954) is one of the most prolific artists in Israel today, presenting exhibitions of photography, painting, installation, and video, drawing on her extensive research in the fields of psychology and philosophy. The Shpilman Prize will support new research exploring the interaction between art and psychoanalysis, concentrating on the role of photography and visual imagery as frequently used diagnostic tools. Ms. Heiman will study the creators of visual psychological tests and investigate aspects of photography—among them portraiture, stereoscope, and World War I documentary imagery—that influenced and were influenced by such tests. Ms. Heiman plans to build two test boxes, 'The Unthinkable I' – For the People of the 21st Century and 'The Unthinkable II' – The Archive of Simultaneous Movement, to be presented and "performed" in an exhibition that will conclude the project.

The Israel Museum will also produce a publication documenting this work. "Ms. Heiman's project is at once innovative and cross disciplinary. It is grounded in photography, but
also touches upon psychology, sociology, and perception, with a solid theoretical basis and background," said Nissan N. Perez, Horace and Grace Goldsmith Senior Curator of the Israel Museum's Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography. "We are proud to recognize Ms. Heiman with this first Shpilman Prize, particularly because of the groundbreaking nature of her project." Michal Heiman Test (M.H.T.) No. 2, My Mother-in-Law, A Test for Women, Quimper, 1998

Shpilman Prize submissions were reviewed by a pre-selection committee from the Israel Museum to ensure that applications complied with the prize regulations and to assess the validity of the projects proposed. Seventeen applications were brought to the consideration of a jury of international experts in the field of photography, including, in addition to Mr. Perez:

• Dr. Shlomo Lee Abrahmov (Yakum, Israel) – Artist, Researcher, and Lecturer, Holon Institute of Technology and Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, representing the Shpilman family;
• Mr. Peter Galassi (New York) – Chief Curator of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art; New York;
• Ms. Marta Gili (Paris) – Director, Jeu de Paume; and
• Prof. Hanan Laskin (Tel Aviv) – Founder, Photography Department, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, and academic advisor to art schools and other cultural institutions in Israel.

"I have no doubt that the Shpilman Prize will be embraced as one of photography's most distinguished honors, not least because it is designed to encourage new work," said Peter Galassi, Chief Curator of Photography of The Museum of Modern Art. "It has an ideal home in the Department of Photography of the Israel Museum, which has grown and been enriched notably since the Museum's early years, under the direction of Senior Curator Nissan Perez, who so ably guided the jury process."

A lecturer and curator for the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Arts, and the Advanced Studies Psychotherapy Program at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Michael Heiman's interdisciplinary practice includes installation, painting, photography, and video. Her work is often based on extensive research in the fields of psychology and philosophy and centers on the themes of psychoanalysis, clinical research, the history of art, politics, and the gender debate. Among her major works are the series Photo Rape (2003) and I was There (2005), as well as the video series
Daughtertype (2006-2008) and Attacks on Linking (2003-2006). In 1997, Ms. Heiman represented Israel at Documenta X in Germany, where she first operated Michal Heiman Test (MHT) No. 1, arranged along the lines of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)—a personality test used by psychologists in which viewers react to images presented in a box. Ms. Heiman continued her testing series with Michal Heiman

Test (MHT) No. 2 – My Mother-in-Law – Test for Women, presented in France, Israel, and Japan. She is also recognized for her lectures on the British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion (1897-1979) and on the French artists Claude Cahun, Christian Boltanski, and Sophie Calle. Michal Heiman was nominated for the Shpilman Prize by Professor Hannah Naveh, Dean of The Faculty of Arts, Tel Aviv University.

The Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography

Recognizing photography as a leading contemporary cultural medium, the Shpilman Prize was initiated by the Shpilman family and the Shpilman Art and Culture Foundation together with the Israel Museum with the joint objectives of stimulating, encouraging, and cultivating international research projects in photography and of broadening the range of photographic investigations which integrate theoretical issues with practical ones. The $40,000 prize is awarded by an international jury once every two years, resulting in a publication by the Israel Museum, and if suitable, an exhibition. Nominations for the 2012 prize will be accepted beginning October 1, 2011.

Prospective candidates include artists and scholars in photography with a proven record of past achievement who intend to undertake a research project of consequence in the field of photography. Candidates for the prize must be nominated by experienced professionals in art and/or photography affiliated with non-commercial artistic, cultural, or academic institutions. The projects submitted are reviewed and judged by an independent jury of internationally recognized experts. Prize regulations are available online at

The Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography is supported by an endowment gift of $1 million from the Shpilman Art and Culture Foundation, with the goal of expanding the core activities of the Museum's Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography. The Shpilman gift also matches a challenge grant from the Schusterman Foundation – Israel, which sought to encourage Israeli support by pledging $1 million toward the Museum's ongoing endowment campaign in memory of its Founder
Teddy Kollek, if matched by a donor in Israel. Shalom Shpilman, a philanthropist and businessman based in Tel Aviv, with a long-standing interest in the promotion of photographic scholarship and discovery, is currently establishing an international
photography institute, having already created a scholarship program for excellence in photography in several Israeli academic institutions. Mr. Shpilman has also recently founded the Shpilman Institute for Photography (SIP), dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of photographic knowledge.

The Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography at the Israel Museum
Since its opening in 1965, the Israel Museum has maintained a focus on the exploration and exhibition of photography, and its comprehensive collection marks the Museum as a leader among encyclopedic museums in developing its holdings in the medium. Over the years, through selected acquisitions, together with gifts from key donors such as Arnold Newman, Arturo Schwarz, and Noel and Harriette Levine, the department's collection has grown to comprise over 55,000 works from the earliest days of photography to contemporary times. Areas of expertise include pioneering 19th-century practitioners and
photography of the Dada and Surrealist movements, as well as in-depth representations of such historically significant artists as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Andre Kertész, and Man Ray. The department also promotes contemporary Israeli photography through an active program of acquisitions as well as through individual and group exhibitions dedicated to the work of Israeli photographers. In addition, the department awards three photography prizes, the Gérard Lévy Prize for a Young Photographer, the Kavlin Photography Prize for Life Achievement, and the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography.

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the leading art and archaeology museums in the world. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections ranging from prehistory through contemporary art and includes the most extensive holdings of Biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world, among them the Dead Sea Scrolls. In just 45 years, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects through an unparalleled legacy of gifts and support from its circle of patrons worldwide. In 2010, the Museum completed a comprehensive renewal of its campus, including the creation of new galleries, orientation facilities, and public spaces, and the complete reinstallation of its encyclopedic collections. The Museum also organizes and presents programming at its off-site locations in Jerusalem at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, where it presents archaeological artifacts from the Land of Israel, and at its historic Ticho House in downtown Jerusalem, a venue for exhibitions of contemporary Israeli art.