The Ghosts of Ellis Island
The Unframed Ellis Island project is about bringing alive the memory of Ellis Island, the entry point to America for millions of immigrants. Coming from all over the world, leaving their belongings, their family and their past behind them, with the fear that they may be sent back to it, the presence of these people who have shaped the modern American identity can still be felt in the buildings, although abandoned for the past 70 years. This is the opportunity to interpret the stories of these people through art. Unframed is an ongoing project by JR, who uses images by famous or anonymous photographers and archival images. JR interprets them and takes them out of their context depending on the place, neighborhood or city he works in. In August 2014, JR was invited to work on the abandoned part of Ellis Island. This island, next to the Statue of Liberty, is very symbolic - the gateway to the United States for 12 million immigrants, from 1892 to 1954. On the south side of the island, the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital has been abandoned since 1954. JR revisited the archives of Ellis Island and created many installations in these buildings so full in stories. Art Spiegelman, the famous author of the graphic novel Maus, immigrated to the United States in 1951. He collaborates with JR on this book, illustrating on photographs, visiting notable stories of immigrants that came through Ellis Island.