The Ghosts of Ellis Island

Spiegelman, Art

| 2015

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In August 2014 the French artist JR received an unprecedented invitation to work in the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, a building on the south side of the island that has been abandoned and closed to visitors since 1954. About ten percent of the millions of migrants who passed through Ellis Island, having been deemed not healthy enough to enter the United States, spent some time in the hospital. For Unframed--Ellis Island, documented in The Ghosts of Ellis Island, JR chose about 20 archival photographs of the hospital's patients and staff and wheat-pasted these images around the abandoned building, creating haunting scenes that bring the history of these rooms back to life: a family looking out at the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, a small boy lying on an empty bed frame, patients staring out of the caged "psychopathic" ward. The work, which is accessible by guided tour, will remain...

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