La Nascita: JR’s New Artistic Terrain at Milan Central Station

French artist JR recently unveiled his latest public art installation, 'La Nascita', positioned just outside Milan Central Station. This groundbreaking piece showcases a series of rock formation images printed on aluminum slats. It will be displayed from April 9th until May 1st, 2024, coinciding with Milan Design Week 2024, where it integrates with Moncler’s exhibition inside the station.

'La Nascita' marks JR's inaugural venture into sculptural anamorphosis, a technique involving distorted images that create optical illusions, a theme recurrent in his body of work. This installation deviates from his typical use of paper and glue, employing instead metal and aluminum for a more durable setup.

During a preview with designboom, JR explained the interactive nature of the installation: "From a certain point, you see how the artworks blend with Milan Central Station. But as you move around the square, you discover various layers, allowing you to 'cross' between mountainous visuals as if navigating through different shapes and forms, reminiscent somewhat of my project at the Louvre with the small pyramids. Here, the challenge was recreating these layers and using scaffolding to encompass the entire square, crafting a translucent effect over the train station."

The structure itself comprises several scaffoldings, each adorned with rock prints on aluminum slats, sourced from local Milanese scaffolding services. "I've also incorporated newspapers in the structure. The metal used has been printed on, allowing for future reuse in different artworks. It’s layered in such a way that you can see and touch it. Even the small stones on the ground are made of a durable aluminum, not plastic, to withstand foot traffic," JR added during his talk with designboom.

Each aluminum slat is 32 centimeters wide, painted white, with rock images printed in black using sublimation techniques. A varnish coat is added for protection. JR also recycled barn wood boards as canvases for ink transfers. The installation is designed to endure various weather conditions and could potentially become a permanent fixture.

This art piece not only enhances the architectural aesthetics of Milan Central Station but also pays homage to its storied history, particularly referencing the construction of the Simplon Tunnel in 1906, which significantly influenced the station's development. The installation draws from a range of architectural styles, including Roman, eclectic, rationalist, art nouveau, and art deco, reflecting the historical layers of the station's development.

JR's 'La Nascita' offers visitors a unique, multi-dimensional experience, inviting them to walk through the rocky formations and discover the invisible ties that connect the present station to its historic origins. This journey through art and history culminates in a deeper appreciation for both the creative process and the enduring legacy of Milan Central Station.