Mediterranean - Eretz Israel Museum

Mimmo Jodice

Mimmo Jodice is one of the most significant contemporary photographers. His work is sensitive to social issues but is not photojournalism. He has said he felt that Mediterranean was intellectually necessary, and expressed a “need for reassurance”. Disappointed with the results of an art that aimed to deal with the dynamics of everyday life directly, Jodice went in search of “strong feelings”, exploring the archaic roots of his own human condition, rediscovering the present while observing the past, moving out into the world while remaining culturally loyal to his native Naples.

Between 1990 and 1995 he made a number of trips to the Middle East where he photographed living testimonies of the history of the civilizations closest to us. Many places have been captured in the formidable collection of images that make up the Mediterranean cycle. Archaeological sites, statues, mosaics, landscapes and natural features contribute to an itinerary of substantially homogeneous photographs taken by Jodice. The particular use of black and white renders the need or desire to identify a date or season or time at which the shots were taken obsolete. Each image seems to deliver an absolute vision, separate from the here and now, from the precision that in theory constitutes the specifics of photography. In so doing Mimmo Jodice concentrates on the chosen subjects, and at the same time highlights the dynamics of taking photographs with his slow way of looking, which takes the image beyond the moment, opening up further levels of interpretation such as the symbolic and conceptual.

The interaction between light and shade (chiaroscuro), the quality of light that permeates and animates views of the sky and profiles of amphitheatres, the dramatic vital tension of ancient wall paintings and the timeless facial expressions of marble heads represent – in Jodice’s words – “life that continues”, the odyssey of an image evoking “introspection”.

Faithful to the requirements of the image and never forgetting the lesson of metaphysics, Jodice distances himself from (but does not forget) the human figure, focusing on places. And perhaps, in doing so, he focuses on man again, not in terms of representation but as an active subject, from an ideal observation point, which coincides with that of the photographer.

In the Mediterranean sites we have the image of history itself, of time that exceeds an instant, the immeasurable act that transforms a monument into ruins, the identification of ancient forms outlined by the erosion of rocks, the incessant intense power of the sea delimited placidly by the presumed certainty of the horizon, by the moving mutilation of statues and buildings that have witnessed the alternating fortunes and emblems of empires. And so we come back to that realization that we are all citizens of Mare Nostrum, inhabitants of its liquid routes, embodying the cultures of the three continents of the White Middle Sea, engaged in the current dynamics and the history of its civilization.

Gianfranco Maraniello
Director of Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto