Mimmo Jodice was born in 1934 in Naples, where he still lives.After various experiences with drawing, painting and sculpture, in the early sixties he focused his commitment radically and definitively on photography.
He had his first solo show in 1967 at the Libreria La Mandragola in Naples, presented by Antonio Napolitano, and in the same year had his first image published in the Italian edition of the American magazine "Popular Photography".
In the works of this period he rejected the concept of photography as a mirror of reality, moving towards the visual arts and current research into conceptual printing.
In fact he experimented with the expressive possibilities of photography from the technical or linguistic viewpoint (sometimes combining it with manual interventions, especially collage). Even in those days work in the darkroom was fundamental to a creative process in which the artist added further, sometimes irreproducible manipulations to the recording of the objectual datum (in an interview he speaks of the "alchemy of the darkroom").
In 1968 he held his first solo exhibition in a public space, the rooms of the Teatro Spento in the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino.
In the urgency of political commitment that marked the Italy of the seventies Jodice took part with a corpus of socially committed works in which the theme of Southern Italy is put forward in an unprecedented key: "well constructed" images invested with the power of symbols, though they are the result of direct experience, carried out in the field.
The works of this period often grew out of collaboration with historians, anthropologists and sociologists and appeared in several exhibitions and books.
The first books included Chi è devoto, with Roberto De Simone, and the cycle of images Il ventre del colera, shot in Campania during the 1973 cholera epidemic and collected in a show at the SICOF trade fair in Milan and in the book introduced by Domenico De Masi.
His socially committed appeared in the first issue of the magazine "Progresso Fotografico", published as a monograph in January 1978, and in the exhibition Facets of the Permanent Collection. Expressions of the Human Condition, curated by Van Deren Coke in 1981 for the San Francisco Museum of Arts.
This was the first important recognition of his work.
His interest in the social theme also led Mimmo Jodice to devise collective works such as the project curated with Cesare De Seta and extended to other photographers: the first step in the project was the book Napoli 1981. Sette fotografi per una nuova immagine.
In 1970 Mimmo Jodice was invited to hold experimental courses at the Naples Fine Arts Academy where, when a chair of Photography was established, he taught till 1994.
In the course of the seventies he proceeded in parallel with linguistic experimentation through a series of exhibitions: in particular Nudi dentro cartelle ermetiche at Galleria Il Diaframma in Milan (1970), presented by Cesare Zavattini, and Identificazione at the Studo Trisorio in Naples (1978), presented by Marina Miraglia.
At the same time Mimmo Jodice was an exponent of the avant-garde scene in Naples which was chiefly fired by the activities of certain galleries: Lucio Amelio's Modern Art Agency, Studio Morra, Studio Trisorio and Galleria Lia Rumma. Testimony of his participation, often imbued with friendly relationships, was subsequently collected in the 1996 book Avanguardie a Napoli, edited by Bruno Corà.
In 1983 the publisher Fabbri chose him for one of the first monographs in the series "I grandi fotografi", with a text by Filiberto Menna and a conversation between the artist and Giuseppe Alario.
Many scholars identify a significant change of direction in his work with the series of images collected under the title Vedute di Napoli, begun in 1978 and published the following year in a book with texts by Giuseppe Bonini and Giuseppe Galasso. In these images the human figure has wholly disappeared and Jodice has moved even more radically away from the intention of documenting the actual scene.
His photographs were defined as "metaphysical" and his research interpreted as a work of self-analysis from which the surreal datum of everyday life emerges.
The same ability to transform foreshortenings, objects and views into images that are disorienting or charged with symbolic value was subsequently manifested in the photographs collected in the 1982 books Naples: une archéologie future, with text by Jean-Claude Lemagny, Gibellina, with text by Arturo Carlo Quintavalle and Suor Orsola. Cittadella monastica nella Napoli del Seicento (1987) with text by Annette Malochet. A selection of the photos from these books was exhibited in a solo show presented at the "Mois de la photo '88" event in Paris and published in the book Mimmo Jodice fotografie, together with a text by Carlo Bertelli.
In 1988 Mimmo Jodice photographed the city of Arles, exhibiting the images in a solo show, with a catalogue including text by Michèle Moutashar, at the Musée Réattu in Arles.
After this collection he would dedicate numerous other series to cities of his choice such as New York (1985), Paris (1992 - 1994), Rome (1999, 2005 - 2007), Boston (2000 - 2001), São Paulo (2003 - 2004), Tokyo (2004 - 2006) and Moscow (2006).
Subsequently, in 2006, the stages of this itinerary that extended far beyond the limits of his hometown were collected in an exhibition at the Palazzo Reale, Naples, and in the book Città visibili, published on the occasion of his receiving an honorary degree in Architecture from the Federico II University of Naples.
Other books - often published in tandem with solo shows - deal with an in-depth vision of individual cities, such as Paris: City of Light (1998, text by Adam Gopnik) for the exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la Photo in Paris; Inlands. Visions of Boston (2001, edited by David D. Nolta and Ellen R. Shapiro) for the exhibition at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston; São Paulo (2004, text by Stefano Boeri) for the exhibition at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, and Roma (2008, texts by Richard Burdett and by Cornelia Lauf).
At the same time Mimmo Jodice continued his itinerary within Naples, the city where, though denouncing its difficulties, he chooses to live.
The resulting images have appeared in several exhibitions, including La città invisibile at the Museo di Castel Sant'Elmo in Naples (1990) presented by Germano Celant.
On various occasions, from the eighties onwards, Mimmo Jodice has turned his eye to antique art and archaeology, publishing books such as Un secolo di furore (1986, with Nicola Spinosa), Michelangelo sculture (1989, with Eugenio Battisti), and in the nineties Paestum, Pompei, Neapolis and Puteoli (with Fausto Zevi); then in 1992 the catalogues Antonio Canova and La collezione Boncompagni Ludovisi. Algardi, Bernini e la fortuna dell'antico, the latter edited by Antonio Giuliano.
His interest in architecture led to collaboration with Álvaro Siza Vieira and the series of photos exhibited at the Fundação de Serralves in Oporto (1990).
In 1990 his contribution to the collective show Vue du Pont, curated by Anny Milovanoff at the Chartreuse di Villeneuve lez-Avignon, evinced an emerging predilection for themes linked to memory.
In 1993, on the occasion of the exhibitions at Villa Pignatelli in Naples and Palazzo della Ragione in Padua, the monograph Mimmo Jodice. Tempo interiore was published, edited by Roberta Valtorta. This work investigates the "metaphysical dimension", the "overcoming of sensorial experience", the ability to create "other" realities and establish a relationship with the world of dreams.
Mimmo Jodice gradually gathered together a body of works, identified by the title Mediterraneo, in which individual recollections, collective memory and the interior glance combine in a fresco of Greco-Roman culture whose history and myths are recovered in the artist's personal language.
The photos coming under this theme were collected for the first time in the book Mediterranean, brought out by the New York publishing house Aperture in 1995, with texts by George Hesey and by Predrag Matvejević, on the occasion of the solo exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Numerous exhibitions were dedicated to this same theme, which was variously treated in solo shows at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Aperture Burden's Gallery in New York (1999), at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome and the Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea in Rivoli (2000), at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in Tokyo and the Museum of Photography in Moscow (2006).
In 1995 a new cycle of photographs appeared at the Galleria Lia Rumma in Naples, and subsequently in the 1998 exhibition at the Museo di Palazzo Ducale in Mantua and in the monograph edited by Germano Celant: entitled Eden, the cycle was conceived as "a metaphor of everyday violence".
The monograph Isolario mediterraneo, published in 2000 with text by Predrag Matvejević, for the first time brought together photographs dedicated to the sea, a theme that would take on great significance in Mimmo Jodice's work.
Purified of every structure connected with the modern rite of holidaymaking, these images are assigned to a condition of solitary pilgrimage in search of a different balance between ourselves and things.
The sea was the theme of the 2001 exhibition at the Galleria Lia Rumma in Milan, and in 2003 at the Baudoin Lebon gallery in Paris where it was presented by Bernard Millet.
In 2001 the Galleria d'Arte Moderna of Turin held a great Mimmo Jodice retrospective, curated by Pier Giovani Castagnoli.
His solo shows were subsequently held in other public spaces including the Museum of Modern Art in Wakayama, Japan, and the Moscow House of Photography (2003), the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto in Rovereto (2004) and the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples (2008).
In 2003 he won the Feltrinelli Prize, the first time it was awarded for Photography.
The numerous monographs that have appeared in the new millennium range from those of an anthological nature, like the one edited by Roberta Valtorta and published by Motta in 2003, and the more recent Perdersi a guardare (Lost in looking), edited by Alessandra Mauro and published in 2008 by Contrasto. With the title the artist wished to identify himself in a quotation from Fernando Pessoa, "but what was I thinking before I got lost in looking?".