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Shpilman Photography Prize Awarded to John Jacob

Jerusalem, October 19, 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 fifteen 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. Created in partnership with the Israel Museum, the biannual Shpilman Prize aims to catalyze and support international research projects exploring theoretical and practical issues in photography. 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-ups—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.

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