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
• Mr. Peter Galassi (New York) – Chief Curator of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art;
• 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
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 www.imj.org.il/shpilmanprize.
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.