OSPEDALE PSICHIATRICO, 1977
Photographer Mimmo Jodice took this photograph in 1977 in Naples at the Leonardo Bianchi Psychiatric Institute. This photograph fixes a moment of anguish and loneliness of a psychiatric patient who hides his face behind a white handkerchief. His gesture expresses his discomfort and shame in front of the photographer’s lens. The contrast between the white of the handkerchief and the black of the background creates a dramatic and striking effect as the raised handkerchief separates the subject from the world and the photographer who is capturing him.
Jodice succeeds in showing the human condition of the mentally ill in a society that marginalizes and forgets them, inviting us to reflect on the fragility of life. The work is uniquely situated in the genre of portrait photography, which usually allows us to get to know a person precisely through his or her face and gaze. Such information, on the other hand, is here denied to the viewer: it is therefore the unspoken, what we do not see, the private dimension of the person and his or her condition, that takes on the greatest value in this photograph.