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Israel Museum Awards Michal Heiman First Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography

Michal Heiman, Attacks on Linking (2003-2006), banners
Heiman Selected by International Jury to Receive $40,000 for Research on the Use of Photography in Psychoanalysis and Diagnostic Testing

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. She 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 interview the creators of visual psychological tests and investigate aspects of photography—including 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.”

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 Museum; 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.

A lecturer and curator for the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Beit Berl College of Art, and the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Arts, 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 wherein viewers react to images presented in boxes. 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 widely recognized for her lectures on the British psychiatrist and psychoanalystWilfred Bion (1897-1979) and on the French artists Claude Cahun and Sophie Calle.

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 andthe 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.

Potential 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 www.imj.org.il/shpilmanprize.

The Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography is supported by an endowment gift of $1 million from the ShpilmanArt 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, which sought to encourage Israeli support by pledging $1 million toward the Museum’s 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 Israeli academic institutions. Mr. Shpilman has also recently founded the Shpilman Institute for Photography (SIP), an international institution 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, as well as 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. 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.