Born in 1950 in Aubervilliers ()
Lives and works in Paris (France )


Jean-Baptiste Mondino is recognised in France and in the United States as an artistic director in advertising, a photographer, a music video director, and more recently as a producer.
Jean-Baptiste Mondino's education consists of a series of experiences and productions, undertaken in a spirit of daring, positivity and defiance, after he failed to obtain his school leaver's certificate. In 1970, he left for London, where he worked in restaurants and night-clubs (as a DJ). Back in France in 1973, he joined the advertising agency Publicis, becoming its artistic director within three years. He met advertising photographers there, in particular Helmut Newton and David Bailey. When speaking about his practice, Jean-Baptiste Mondino often makes reference to the photographs of Man Ray, stressing the timeless quality and tension inherent in his subjects, as well as the advantages of black-and-white photography, a format that he also uses often.
In 1976, Jean-Baptiste Mondino tried his hand at photography for his first album cover, and continued with the albums of some of the greatest commercial artists as well as lesser-known artists, both European (Johnny Hallyday, Alain Chamfort) and American (Prince), introducing advertising technique into this domain.
He then started to direct television advertisements (Maggi, Gratounet, Atari) and fashion shoots (Jean-Paul Gautier, Yves Saint-Laurent, Kenzo), while also publishing photographs in magazines such as Elle, Marie-Claire Beauté, Lei, Lui, Actuel, 20 ans, and Libération.
In 1982, just when the music video phenomenon arrived in France, Jean-Baptiste Mondino started out in this field, after having worked for several years in the United States. He started as the author/performer of his first music video : La danse des mots (1982), followed by videos for Taxi Girl, Stills and Tom Waits. He soon became an important and popular figure and received many awards, especially in France (at the Festival du Clip d'Antibes) and across the Atlantic, with numerous awards for Cargo by Axel Bauer (1984), two prizes for best music video for Boys of Summer by Don Henley (1985) and four Oscars attributed by MTV for Don Henley's clip and for Un autre monde by Téléphone, created the same year.
Jean-Baptiste Mondino's short films are representational games and introduce self-reflexive discursive elements relating to music videos. The director creates images that fix the characteristic forms of the subject in question within this ephemeral medium. He tends to prefer the extrapolation of a theme and the transfiguration of a given reality to the representation of the group's sensibility and the atmosphere of the hit song (Madonna's music video, in which she plays a peep show dancer, was deemed too sexy for American audiences and was adjusted by the record label). Jean-Baptiste Mondino accentuates secondary aspects and plays with anachronisms (the kitsch accent of Les Rita Mitsouko is brought to the fore in C'est comme ça). The energy of the musical genre is represented by the dimensions of the performance (in C'est comme ça the singer is made up like Nina Hagen), through the choice of framing, the sometimes slow rhythm of the succession of shots, and the tension in the bodies that symbolise this energy. The sung performance is thus filmed and reworked in televisual format, with the aim of fostering a group's image.
The international destination of music videos, as a promotional medium, can displace the representation of songs that reflect a national character, transfiguring them in a dimension that corresponds to the presumed expectations of foreign audiences. For instance, Téléphone's Un autre monde represents France through the backdrop of an aerial metro, shot in a documentary and retro style, in black and white, also reminiscent of the Nouvelle Vague [1].
At the start of the 1980s, Jean-Baptiste Mondino introduced graphic design into music videos by using subtitles in a clip by Tom Waits with a play on the formal evolution of the typography in Soleil Soleil by Ahmed Fakroun (1984), as well as in La danse des mots in which "robotic dancers [...] move to a disjointed rhythm (alternating between accelerations and slow motion of sound and image) amidst invading cubes with letters on their sides." [2]
The performance is devised in relation to the obsessions of the era, namely the human body in an imaginary science fiction-related world, and there is a focus on progress in scientific research (cloning, multiplication of bodies, fragmentation, mutilation and so on). This subject had already been used in his videos (Mia Bocca de Jill Jones en 1987), but found new developments with the computer imagery that he used from the late 1980s.
The performance of the song especially created for the music video is often integrated within a fictional context, often featuring staging that describes the relationship of the television viewer to the broadcast of music videos and behaviour associated with television.
From his first music videos, Jean-Baptiste Mondino introduced filmic references into his practice, thus in Axel Bauer's Cargo, we recognise his citation of Fassbinder's Querelle and the influence of German expressionism [3].
The framing and points of view or camera axes are determined by the status of the filmic subject – singer or musician, fictional character or setting – Jean-Baptiste Mondino attributes a specific language and sequential durations that differ depending on what kind of subject is being filmed. The relatively slow rhythm of the shots, the constructed and graphically stylised images stand out in comparison to other music video tendencies that present heavily edited performances, determined by the musical rhythm and a collage of axes and frames that are constantly changing.
Although he is passionate about the United States and attached to it, Jean-Baptiste Mondino always returns to France and to the French language, which he finds striking. In 1982, he performed La danse des mots, a song in "verlan" (French slang using inverted syllables) which was his first single, produced after a visit to the United States, in response to scratch (a creative process that reverses the direction of a record) but he thus applies scratch technique to word order.
The 1990s marked a change in horizon. He created his production company in Paris, Bandits Productions, adapted a cartoon into a feature film, then started to work as a television director, on the one hand designing the graphic identity of television shows (the credits of Antoine de Caunes' Rapido, based on American-style channel-surfing) and on the other, short thematic films (Philippe Stark : La dernière vague). In 1999, a book of his photographs was published : Mondino (Déjà vu).

[1] Thierry Jousse, "Forme brève", Cahiers du cinéma, numéro 434, p. 82-84.
[2] Viviane Chocas, "Kaleidos clip", Le Monde, dimanche 9 - lundi 10 septembre 1984.
[3] Voir Thierry Jousse, op. cit.

Thérèse Beyler
Translated by Anna Knight