Giving a new face to the Sanità, Naples

Mimmo Jodice is a well-known Italian photographer who was professor at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli from 1970 to 1996.  He is also Honorary President of the recently launched San Gennaro Foundation NGO.  This organisation hopes to ‘give a new face‘ to Rione Sanità, one of the toughest, poorest and most deprived of the inner Naples neighbourhoods, through development projects, social initiatives and promoting a culture of responsibility and solidarity.

Jodice’s striking 1992 photograph Demetra Opera 1 is being used as a symbol of the Foundation.  It shows a broken marble bust of Demetra, Greek goddess of the harvest, agriculture and fertility.  The left side of her cheek and jaw is gone and instead her face, with its off centre, dispassionate gaze, is completed by a unblemished plaster cast. The two halves are held together by a hand, perhaps the photographer’s own.

There is a tenderness about the image and the way the face is cradled.  As this blog explains:

It is a sweet gesture – an effort to repair the damage and then bring the sculpture alive. But there is something not quite right: the cast the artist made to fit the face, doesn’t quite match, so the lips don’t meet and the face as an awkward skew to it.  Perhaps it was meant for a different repair job.  Or perhaps it is simply impossible to go back.  We try to repair, to bring back the past, to make the past whole again, but like the photograph of the repair, it doesn’t quite fit.

The Foundation hopes to raise 2.5 million Euros for the Sanità over the next 10 years, which under the system of grant matching will be doubled to 5 million Euros.  Donations can be made via the website. More about the Sanità in a subsequent post.


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