Jason Eskenazi

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Jason Eskenazi (born April 23, 1960)[1] is an American photographer, based in Brooklyn, New York. The majority of his photography is from the countries of the former Soviet Union, including his book Wonderland: A Fairy Tale of the Soviet Monolith (2008).[2]

Eskenazi received the Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Prize[3] and a Guggenheim Fellowship, both in 1999.[4] Wonderland won first place in a book award from Pictures of the Year International in 2008.[5]


Eskenazi was born April 23, 1960 in Queens, New York.[1] He attended Bayside High School then studied psychology and American literature at Queens College.[1] 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[1] 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[6] 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."[8] 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."[8]

An exhibition of the work was held at the Leica Gallery in New York. The book won first prize in Pictures of the Year International's 'Best Use Books' category in 2008.[6][5]

In 2004 and 2005 Eskenazi directed a Kids With Cameras project in Jerusalem,[1][9] teaching photography to Arab Muslims and Jewish children. Their photographs were exhibited in New York, San Francisco,[9] 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,[3] 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.[2] 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.[10] William Meyers, writing in the Wall Street Journal, favourably reviewed The Americans List,[11] as did photographer David Carol.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15][16]

He is co-creator of a photography zine/newspaper titled Dog Food, published in print and online.[n 1][17]


Publications by Eskenazi[edit]

  • Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith.
  • Title Nation (with Valeri Nistratov). Amsterdam: Schilt, 2010. ISBN 978-9-053307-39-7.[n 4] With a DVD containing Title Nation, Vitebsky and Camera Obscura.

Publications edited by Eskenazi[edit]

Publications with contributions by Eskenazi[edit]

  • 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.
  • 100 Great Street Photographs. Munich, London, New York: Prestel, 2017. By David Gibson. ISBN 978-3791383132. Contains a commentary on and a photograph by Eskenazi.

Awards and grants[edit]


Solo exhibitions[edit]

Exhibitions with others[edit]

  • 1999: Caucasus and Haiti: The Boys of Summer, Moving Walls 2, Open Society Institute, New York.[28]
  • 2012: Double Zero, Look3, Charlottesville Festival of the Photograph, USA.[n 11][29]
  • 2013: Double Zero, Develop Photo line-up, On Photography Online Film Festival, Fotoweek, the Netherlands.[30]
  • 2013: A Gathering of Images, Leica Gallery, New York. With numerous other photographers.[31][32]
  • 2014: Double Zero, Istituto Superiore Antincendi (ISA), FotoLeggendo festival, Rome.[33]

Exhibitions curated by Eskenazi[edit]

  • 2011: Bursa Photography Festival, Bursa, Turkey.[34]
  • 2013: Come Again! Seen-Unseen, Gallery BU, Istanbul, Turkey.[35]


Eskenazi's work is held in the following collections:


  1. ^ Its web page within Eskenazi's site is here.
  2. ^ Its web page at de.MO is here.
  3. ^ Its web page at Red Hook is here.
  4. ^ Its web page at Schilt is here.
  5. ^ Its web page at Blurb is here.
  6. ^ Its web page at Red Hook is here.
  7. ^ It is available to read within Eskenazi's site at http://jasoneskenazi.com/DOGFOOD_01.pdf
  8. ^ It is available to read within Eskenazi's site at http://jasoneskenazi.com/DOGFOOD_02.pdf
  9. ^ It is available to read at http://issuu.com/dogfoodmagazine/docs/df3-web (Issuu)
  10. ^ Its web page within Eskenazi's site is here.
  11. ^ A video of the projected exhibit can be watched here at vimeo.com.


  1. ^ a b c d e Kids with Cameras, Jerusalem
  2. ^ a b c d James Estrin, "Showcase: Russian Noir", New York Times LensBlog, 7 July 2009. Accessed 1 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Jason Eskenazi". The Fulbright Program in Russia. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Jason Eskenazi". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 9 April 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c "First Place Best Use Books". Pictures of the Year International. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Jason Eskenazi". Light Work. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Authors". Red Hook Editions. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Margot Adler, "[In Wonderland, scenes of Soviet dissolution]", National Public Radio, 16 November 2008. Accessed 1 May 2014.
  9. ^ a b Winn, Steven (10 February 2008). "Eskenazi turns kids into photographers". SFGate#Web. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  10. ^ Bicker, Phil (4 October 2012). "The Americans List: A Salute to Robert Frank". Time. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Meyers, William (16 November 2012). "Gift Guide 2012: Photography". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Carol, David (4 September 2013). "Book of the Week: A Pick by David Carol". Photo-Eye. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  13. ^ Koppel, Niko (5 March 2010). "Hoping to Graduate From Guards to Gauguins". New York Times. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  14. ^ Adler, Margot (22 March 2010). "Museum Guards 'Sw!pe' the Spotlight". NPR. Retrieved 9 March 2014. 
  15. ^ The Black Garden: A New Photography Project by Jason Eskenazi, kickstarter.com.
  16. ^ Estrin, James (17 June 2011). "Exploring the Great East-West Divide". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  17. ^ McCann, Matt (12 July 2013). "Dog Food for the Mind and Soul". New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Jason Eskenazi". Alicia Patterson Foundation. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  19. ^ "Resident Alumni Updates". Blue Mountain Center. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "Visual Artists". Yaddo. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  21. ^ "Yaddo Annual Report 2007" (PDF). Yaddo. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  22. ^ "history 2004". Visa pour l'image. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  23. ^ "Bloc Busters". UC Regents. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  24. ^ "Arts Listings". The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  25. ^ Bob Black, "Jason Eskenazi's Wonderland: A Fairytale of the Soviet Monolith", The Fader, 14 November 2008. Accessed 1 May 2014.
  26. ^ Eliza Honey, "We were born to make fairy tales come true". New Yorker, 13 October 2008. Accessed 1 May 2014.
  27. ^ Wender, Jessie (6 September 2011). "Vanishing Points at Ground Zero". The New Yorker. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  28. ^ ""Caucasus" and "Haiti: The Boys of Summer"". Open Society Foundations. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  29. ^ Estrin, James (9 June 2012). "Half Photos, Striving to be More". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  30. ^ "Double Zero by Jason Eskenazi". Develop Photo. Retrieved 8 March 2014. 
  31. ^ "Staff and Faculty News 2013", International Center of Photography. Accessed 1 May 2014.
  32. ^ Invitation from the Leica Gallery, reproduced here (PDF) in the website of Lynn H. Butler. Accessed 1 May 2014.
  33. ^ "Jason Eskenazi ", Fotoleggendo.
  34. ^ 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. 
  35. ^ "Staff & Faculty News 2013". International Center of Photography. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Collections: Photography: Baku, Azerbaijan". Brooklyn Museum. Retrieved 10 March 2014. 

External links[edit]