Inlands; Visions of Boston by Mimmo Jodice

A large-format book of monochrome photographs of Boston and the surrounding area by the Italian fine-art photographer Mimmo Jodice. The book is a catalogue of an exhibition at the Massachusetts College of Art between November 2001 and January 2002.

I found this book something of a mixture. Many of the photographs are truly notable, with either a specific view of part of the city that otherwise wouldn’t be regarded by most visitors, or a view which is clearly the photographer’s own reaction to the scene. And there there are some pictures which I would frankly not have included because they would not meet my own self-imposed technical standards. But the overall package is attractive and the good photographs are very good, with a tangible sense of place.

There is an introduction by Jeffrey Keogh, the Director of Exhibitions at the college, and an essay by the curators of the exhibition, David D. Nolta and Ellen R. Shapiro. This sets their artistic reaction to Jodice’s work, but I have to take issue with them on one point; they comment on a photograph showing a hemispherical tank on an industrial site and say that this illustrates what they call “the myth of globality” – yet they sign up to this myth and say that this photograph “could be anywhere”. Now, if this photograph had showed a downtown street full of global brand names, I could understand that (though the theme is a bit hackneyed by now). But the fact is that hemispherical tanks on building sites are NOT universal. If these people had actually travelled a bit more with their eyes open they would see the diversity of the mundane. Given that the curators have opted for the comfortable commonly-accepted viewpoint and have also suspended any judgement of technical ability in the selection of pictures for the exhibition, I am led to the opinion that whilst these images may, for the most part, be striking and beautiful, they reflect a particular social viewpoint of an artistic elite that is detached from the real world. And that may just be working against what the photographer wanted to show in the first place.

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