Ellis Island served as a port of entry for those who choose to pursue the “American dream”, for many years. Between 1892 and 1954, immigrants from all over the world landed on this small island off the coast of Manhattan. Over twelve million people passed through the immigrant inspection station of the “island of hope” also called the “island of tears”.
Fascinated by its story, French artist JR decided to take part in the “Save Ellis Island” project, organized by local authorities and the governor of Ellis Island, Christine Todd Whitman, in order to preserve the 24 acre area and the old buildings that populate it.
JR has made some works inside the houses of the island, re-adjusting the present to memory of the past. Some photographic portraits dating back to those time, have been printed full-size and glued on the floors, the walls and the furniture of the buildings, including the Island former hospital, abandoned nearly seventy years ago. This photo installation, that can be observed in this forgotten, abandoned place, offers a huge emotional impact and allow the viewer to experience the stories of all those who left all their possessions behind them, their families and their past, to embrace a new world and new opportunities, in the hope for a better life.
“The Ghost of Ellis Island”, printed by Grafiche Damiani and published by Damiani, tells a piece of history that has changed and redefined the identity of the American people. A collection of photographs showing archive images on various settings, black and white silhouettes representing the historical memory of this place.
The book also includes a series of unpublished drawings by Art Spiegelman. To complete the project, there is a film realized in collaboration with the famous actor Robert De Niro.