Laia Abril awarded Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography

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Laia Abril awarded Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography
Laia Abril, Credit Mahala Nuuk, 2019.

JERUSALEM.- The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (IMJ) has awarded Laia Abril as winner of the 2022 Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography (SIPEP). The Spanish artist will receive an award of $40,000 in recognition of her ambitious, politically engaged work and thought-provoking approach to the medium of photography. Honorable mentions were also granted to Ruth Patir (Israel) and Widline Cadet (Haiti, United States).

Abril (b. 1986) is a multidisciplinary artist working with photography, text, video, and sound. Focusing on personal stories and underrepresented communities, her work touches upon the uneasy and hidden realities of sexuality, gender equality, and power structures that continue to impact society today. Her recent project, A History of Misogyny (2022), combines installations, books, web docs, and films to address women’s oppression throughout history. Her research- based approach, interweaving theory and practice, is shaped by her unique visual voice and language, which tell intimate stories resonating with a universal concern.

Candidates for the prize must be nominated by experienced professionals in art and/or photography affiliated with non-commercial artistic, cultural, or academic institutions. Submissions are reviewed and judged by an independent jury of internationally recognized experts. The jury members of SIPEP2022 were: Thyago Nogueira, Head Photography Curator, Instituto Moreira Salles and Editor of ZUM Magazine; SunJung Kim, Artistic Director of Artsonje Center, Seoul; Dr. Walter Moser, Chief Curator of Photography, Albertina Museum, Vienna; Anat Saragusti, Photographer, Journalist, Documentary Artist, Tel Aviv; Dr. Gilad Reich, Curator of Photography, IMJ; and Dr. Tamara Abramovitch, Associate Curator of Photography, IMJ.

The SIPEP2022 committee selected Mass Hysteria (2022) – the third part of Abril’s A History of Misogyny – for its scope, mature visual language, and the complexity with which it ties together gender-related issues with the theme of oppression of marginalized communities. As with the other two parts of the project – On Abortion (2016-ongoing) and On Rape (2020-ongoing) – Mass Hysteria demonstrates Abril’s ongoing commitment to social injustices, as well as her success in developing a profound body of work that deals with the visual and conceptual factors that shape women’s lives.

The Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography was created in 2010 by the Shpilman family and the Shpilman Institute for Photography together with the Israel Museum, in recognition of photography as a leading contemporary cultural medium and to cultivate original work in the field of photography. The prize, in the amount of $40,000, is awarded once every two years based on the review and decision of an international jury comprised of five acclaimed professionals. Past winners include Michal Heiman, John Jacob, Servet Kocyigit, Lisa Oppenheim, Alison Rossiter, and Sara Cwynar.

Laia Abril (1986) is a research-based artist working with photography, text, video, and sound. After graduating from college with a degree in Journalism, she moved to New York to focus on photography, where she decided to start telling intimate stories that raise uneasy and hidden realities related to sexuality, eating disorders, and gender equality. Abril’s projects are produced across platforms such as installations, books, web docs, and films. Her work has been shown widely and published internationally and is held in private collections and museums, such as Centre Pompidou and FRAC in France, Musée de l’Elysée and Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, MoCP in Chicago, and MNAC and FotoColectania in Barcelona.

After completing her five-year project On Eating Disorders, Abril embarked on her trilogy, A History of Misogyny. Its first chapter On Abortion was exhibited at The Rencontres d’Arles in 2016; and was the first recipient of the Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro, produced with the support of the Fotopress Grant and nominated for the ICP-Infinity Award, Foam Paul Huf among others. The show has been exhibited in more than 13 countries, including at The Photographers’ Gallery (London), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb), el Centro de la Imagen (Mexico), the Museum of Sex (New York), and was the recipient of the Royal Photographic Society’s Hood Medal in 2019.

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem is Israel’s foremost cultural institution and one of the world’s leading encyclopedic museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum’s terraced 20-acre campus houses a wide-ranging collection of art and archaeology of world-class status. Its holdings include the world’s most comprehensive collections of the archaeology of the Holy Land, and Jewish Art and Life, as well as significant and extensive holdings in the Fine Arts, the latter encompassing 10 separate departments: Israeli Art; European Art; Modern Art; Contemporary Art; Prints and Drawings; Photography; Design and Architecture; Asian Art; the Arts of Africa and Oceania; and the Arts of the Americas. The campus also includes the Shrine of the Book, which houses the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls, the world’s oldest biblical manuscripts; an extensive model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period; the Billy Rose Art Garden; and a dynamic Youth Wing for Art Education whose educational programs attract over 100,000 children every year. In just over 50 years, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects through an unparalleled legacy of gifts and support from a wide circle of friends and patrons throughout the world. The Museum also embraces a dynamic program of some 12–15 new exhibitions a year, and a rich annual program of publications, educational activities, and special cultural events that reach out to every sector of the population.

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