DeCordova awarded the Rappaport Prize to Abelardo Morell for his groundbreaking use of some of the oldest photographic techniques in existence. Since the mid-1980s, Morell has been creating images that explore various forms of perception. Whether looking at the world from the viewpoint of a child, or focusing on the most mundane objects from a new vantage point, his photographs transform objects in the everyday world and make us think long and hard about what we are seeing. Although the principle of the camera obscura—the optical model for the modern camera—has been known since antiquity, Morell's use of the technique breaks new ground. To create 1999's Camera Obscura Image of Boston's Old Custom House, he projected the upside-down camera obscura image of the building into a darkened room. The result was a mysterious and evocative layering of exterior and interior spaces, one which questioned the traditional boundary between pictures and the "real world."
Abelardo Morell is an internationally-recognized photographer, and his work is included in over 75 museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are five monographs about Morell in print, including the 2006 Phaidon book Abelardo Morell, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including a feature spread in the New York Times Magazine in 2008. The Yale University Art Gallery displayed Morell's work in the solo exhibition Behind the Seen: The Photographs of Abelardo Morell, also during 2008.