Girija Jhalani

Lost and Found, Stazione Santa Maria Novella

Multimedia artist Girijia Jhalani chose the Santa Maria Novella train station, her first stop in the city of Florence, as the stage for her work. The station was built in 1848 to serve the railway to Pistoia and Pisa and was initially called Maria Antonia; it was much closer to the Santa Maria Novella church than the current station. After the unification of Italy, the station was rebuilt following the design by the architectural studio Gruppo Toscano, especially Giovanni Michelucci. The new building, which reopened in 1935, became a prime example of Italian modernism. 

As a station, Santa Maria Novella has become a perfect vehicle for different gestures and emotions; from its inception to the present day, it has witnessed countless reunions and separations. Girijia Jhalani decided to use this poetic feature by placing the figures in the middle of the station, between departures and arrivals boards, travellers, and the chaotic nature of Santa Maria Novella. The artist uses her creation to blur the borders between reality and illusion, hoping to create a balance between the station’s mundane yet busy activity and the reality of her work, where two painted figures enact their encounter over and over. 

Santa Maria Novella is not only a place for personal encounters but was also a venue for aesthetical happenings in the past, such as  Jenny Holzer’s Truism, her poetic statements reproduced on the hoods of the taxicabs in line outside of the station, waiting for travelers with different greetings during the first edition of Biennale di Firenze, Il tempo e la moda, in 1996.

With the immaterial presence of her AR bodies, Girijia Jhalani confronts the Florentine landscape and its newcomers with a new opportunity to meet their loved ones while also having an aesthetic experience meant to redefine the connection between digital, architectural and personal spaces.

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Girija Jhalani lives and studies in Florence, Italy. She is an undergraduate student of Multimedia Arts at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

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