Eskenazi is best known for his photo-book Wonderland: A Fairy Tale of the Soviet Monolith, which was well received. The majority of his photography is from the countries of the former Soviet Union. His work has appeared in magazines including Time and The New York Times.
Eskenazi attended Bayside High School then studied psychology and American literature at Queens College. Whilst at Queens College he was photo editor for the yearbook, assisted photographers on assignment and worked as a freelance photographer for the Queens Tribune. After graduation he worked in darkrooms, obtained local photo assignments, continued as an assistant and interned at a photo agency in New York. At age 29, inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall, he began to travel and make photographs. His first trips were to Romania (for its first democratic election) and to Germany, then Russia in 1991 just before the August coup that marked the end of the Soviet Union.
He is working on a trilogy of books. For the first of these, Wonderland: A Fairy Tale of the Soviet Monolith, he undertook an extensive documentary project in Russia and the former Soviet Union between 1991 and 2001. He "took the title of his book from Alice in Wonderland, [and] likens the breakup of the Soviet Union (and the food and security provided by the Communist Party) to the end of childhood." Eugene Richards commented: ""Most photographers today either do art photography or create blunt, in-your-face messages. . . . The place he went to could be seen in a million ways, but Eskenazi always seems to capture the little non-moments, the lonely souls."
In 2004 and 2005 Eskenazi directed a Kids With Cameras project in Jerusalem, teaching photography to Arab Muslims and Jewish children. Their photographs were exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Oklahoma, and Montreal, and in Eskenazi's self-published book, Beyond the Wall.
In 2005, funded by a grant from the Fulbright Program, Eskenazi and Russian photographer Valeri Nistratov travelled in the Russian Federation, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. They made colour portraits of people using a 4×5 large format camera, resulting in the book Title Nation.
From 2008 to 2009 Eskenazi worked as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. During this time, he worked as a guard for the exhibition Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, which allowed him a lot of time to study and be inspired by Robert Frank's photographs. Also, Eskenazi asked renowned photographers and others he recognised visiting the exhibition what their favorite image from Frank's book The Americans was, and why. He edited the resulting notes and thoughts of 276 photographers into a book, By the Glow of the Jukebox: The Americans List. William Meyers, writing in the Wall Street Journal, favourably reviewed The Americans List, as did photographer David Carol. Eskenazi is also one of the founding editors of Sw!pe magazine, created by guards at the Metropolitan who are artists in their free time.
In 2011 Eskenazi successfully raised funding via a Kickstarter campaign to complete The Black Garden, his second major book project and the second in his trilogy, a photographic investigation of the East/West divide.
- Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith.
- Title Nation (with Valeri Nistratov). Amsterdam: Schilt, 2010. ISBN 978-9-053307-39-7.[n 4] Includes a DVD with Title Nation, Vitebsky and Camera Obscura.
Publications edited by Eskenazi
- Beyond the Wall. Self-published using Blurb.com, 2010.[n 5]
- By the Glow of the Juke Box: The Americans List. Self-published. New York, NY: Red Hook Editions, 2012. ISBN 978-0-984195-48-0.[n 6]
- Dog Food, Issue 1. Self-published. New York, NY: Red Hook Editions, 2012.[n 7]
- Dog Food, Issue 2. Self-published. New York, NY: Red Hook Editions, 2013.[n 8]
- Dog Food, Issue 3. Self-published. New York, NY: Red Hook Editions, 2014.
Contributions to publications
- Photographers International #20, June 1995. Edited by Juan I-Jong. Taipei: Photographers International, 1995. Articles on Jason Eskenazi, Taishi Hirokawa, Daniel Lee, David H. Wells, Didier Gaillard and Rod Tuach.
- Contatti. Provini d'Autore = Choosing the best photo by using the contact sheet. Vol. II. Edited by Giammaria De Gasperis. Rome: Postcart, 2013. ISBN 978-88-98391-01-1.
Awards and grants
- Alicia Patterson Foundation Grant, 1996.
- Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Prize, 1999, for his story The Red Village, photographs of Jewish people in the village of Krasnayasloboda in Azerbaijan.
- Guggenheim Fellow, 1999.
- Fulbright Program Scholarship, 2004, to make Title Nation.
- Residency, Blue Mountain Center, 2006, New York, to make prints for Wonderland.
- Milton and Sally Michel Avery Residency, Yaddo, New York, 2007.
- Best Photography Book, Pictures of the Year International, 2008, for Wonderland.
- 2004: Wonderland, Visa pour l'Image, Perpignan, France.
- 2007: Wonderland, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, North Gate Hall, University of California.
- 2008–2009: Wonderland, Leica Gallery, New York.
- 2011: Vanishing Points, Reilly Gallery, Providence College, Rhode Island, USA. Photographs of people at Ground Zero in New York City, taken with a Zenit Horizon panoramic camera.[n 9]
Exhibitions with others
- 1999: Caucasus and Haiti: The Boys of Summer, Moving Walls 2, Open Society Institute, New York.
- 2012: Double Zero, Look3, Charlottesville Festival of the Photograph, USA.[n 10]
- 2013: Double Zero, Develop Photo line-up, On Photography Online Film Festival, Fotoweek, the Netherlands.
- 2013: A Gathering of Images, Leica Gallery, New York. With numerous other photographers.
- 2014: Double Zero, Istituto Superiore Antincendi (ISA), FotoLeggendo festival, Rome.
Exhibitions curated by Eskenazi
- 2011: Bursa Photography Festival, Bursa, Turkey.
- 2013: Come Again! Seen-Unseen, Gallery BU, Istanbul, Turkey.
- Its web page within Eskenazi's site is here.
- Its web page at de.MO is here.
- Its web page at Red Hook is here.
- Its web page at Schilt is here.
- Its web page at Blurb is here.
- Its web page at Red Hook is here.
- It is available to read at http://jasoneskenazi.com/DOGFOOD_01.pdf
- It is available to read at http://jasoneskenazi.com/DOGFOOD_02.pdf
- Its web page within Eskenazi's site is here.
- A video of the projected exhibit can be watched here at vimeo.com.
- Kids with Cameras, Jerusalem
- James Estrin, "Showcase: Russian Noir", New York Times LensBlog, 7 July 2009. Accessed 1 May 2014.
- "Jason Eskenazi". Light Work. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- "The Authors". Red Hook Editions. Retrieved 10 March 2014. "After trips to Germany and Romania for their [sic] first democratic elections he traveled to Russia in 1991, just before the August coup that marked the end of the USSR"
- Margot Adler, "[In Wonderland, scenes of Soviet dissolution]", National Public Radio, 16 November 2008. Accessed 1 May 2014.
- "First Place Best Use Books". Pictures of the Year International. Retrieved 27 December 2013. "First Place Jason Eskenazi / Publisher: Gorgio Baravalle, de.MO Books 'wonderland: a fairy tale of the soviet monolith'"
- Winn, Steven (10 February 2008). "Eskenazi turns kids into photographers". SFGate#Web. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "Jason Eskenazi". The Fulbright Program in Russia. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- Bicker, Phil (4 October 2012). "The Americans List: A Salute to Robert Frank". Time (magazine). Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- Meyers, William (16 November 2012). "Gift Guide 2012: Photography". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- "Book of the Week: A Pick by David Carol". Photo-Eye. 4 September 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2014. "Jason gave me a copy of the book a few months ago. I have it sitting on a bookshelf devoted to photobooks I've acquired recently. It seems to be the one I go to most often. I pick it up and read a few of the photographers responses then put it back for another day. It never gets boring and its a treat every time I take a look."
- Koppel, Niko (5 March 2010). "Hoping to Graduate From Guards to Gauguins". New York Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- Adler, Margot (22 March 2010). "Museum Guards 'Sw!pe' the Spotlight". NPR. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- The Black Garden: A New Photography Project by Jason Eskenazi, kickstarter.com.
- Estrin, James (17 June 2011). "Exploring the Great East-West Divide". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- McCann, Matt (12 July 2013). "Dog Food for the Mind and Soul". New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "Jason Eskenazi". Alicia Patterson Foundation. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Resident Alumni Updates". Blue Mountain Center. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Visual Artists". Yaddo. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Yaddo Annual Report 2007". Yaddo. Retrieved 10 March 2014. "Established in 1985 by Yaddo artist Sally Michel Avery in honor of her late husband, Milton, who was also a Yaddo artist. Awarded to a visual artist. Designee in 2007: Jason Eskenazi."
- "history 2004". Visa pour l'Image. Retrieved 7 March 2014. "Jason Eskenazi / World Picture News - Wonderland"
- "Bloc Busters". UC Regents. Retrieved 10 March 2014. "On display at the Graduate School of Journalism, “Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith” is photographer Jason Eskenazi’s unflinching exhibition of images from the former Soviet Union ... The exhibition runs at North Gate Hall through January 5, 2008"
- "Arts Listings". The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 10 March 2014. "“Wonderland, A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith” Black and white photographs by Jason Eskenazi on display at the Graduate School of Journalism, North Gate Hall, UC Campus."
- Bob Black, "Jason Eskenazi's Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith", The Fader, 14 November 2008. Accessed 1 May 2014.
- Eliza Honey, "We were born to make fairy tales come true". New Yorker, 13 October 2008. Accessed 1 May 2014.
- Wender, Jessie (6 September 2011). "Vanishing Points at Ground Zero". The New Yorker. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "“Caucasus” and “Haiti: The Boys of Summer”". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Estrin, James (9 June 2012). "Half Photos, Striving to be More". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- "Double Zero by Jason Eskenazi". Develop Photo. Retrieved 8 March 2014. "Double Zero by Jason Eskenazi was shown as part of the DEVELOP Photo line-up for the first edition of the On Photography Online Film Festival, 9/29/13. The Festival was part of the FOTOWEEK in Holland, an initiative of FOAM and the Netherlands Photo Museum, and was organized by Barbera Brakel of Photo Affairs."
- "Staff and Faculty News 2013", International Center of Photography. Accessed 1 May 2014.
- Invitation from the Leica Gallery, reproduced here (PDF) in the website of Lynn H. Butler. Accessed 1 May 2014.
- "Jason Eskenazi ", Fotoleggendo.
- Mühenna, Kahveci̇ (23 October 2011). "Bursa Fotofest: A photography break on the Silk Road". Today's Zaman. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2014. "The exhibition’s international curators, award-winning American photographer Jason Eskenazi and French curator and critic Laurence Cornet"
- "Staff & Faculty News 2013". International Center of Photography. Retrieved 10 March 2014. "Michael Ackerman, Jason Eskenazi, Ed Keating, and Ken Schles, faculty members, are in the group exhibition COME AGAIN! Seen-Unseen at Gallery BU, Istanbul, Turkey, June 21–July 12"
- "Collections: Photography: Baku, Azerbaijan". Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 10 March 2014. "Jason Eskenazi. Baku, Azerbaijan, 1992. Gelatin silver photograph, sheet: 16 x 20 in. Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the artist, 1995"
- Official website
- Interview with Charlie Kirk about Wonderland
- Jason Eskenazi - Storytelling and Visual Literacy from PhotoWings - monologue by Eskenazi (video)
- The Black Garden by Jason Eskenazi - Eskenazi describes the project (video)
- Eskenazi's The Red Village story at Lost Trails