Ghosts of Ellis Island

Ellis Island in New York was once the gateway to America for over 12 million immigrants between 1892 and 1954 – but only those healthy enough to pass checks at the island’s cavernous hospital complex which opened in 1902. French street artist, JR, and illustrator, Art Spiegelman have collaborated to create a photo book that tells the story of life at the cavernous Ellis Island hospital before it was abandoned by the US Government in 1954 and left to deteriorate. Called The Ghosts of Ellis Island, it includes comic book-style illustrations by Spiegelman famous for creating the graphic novel, Maus, alongside photographs of JR’s must-see ‘Unframed’ installation which opened at the hospital last year. The project consists of life-sized black-and-white archival photos of the island’s immigrants pasted onto the hospital’s walls, windows and other corners, which bring it back to life and create a sense of time and place, giving context to the human experience on Ellis Island. The book also shows photographs of the project being installed.

Immigrants climb the steps to the hospital






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ghosts of ellis island chairs

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ghosts of ellis island bed

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The Ghosts of Ellis Island is published by Damiani and you can buy it here.

JR’s ‘Unframed’ project is an ongoing installation at the Ellis Island hospital complex which you can see on a guided tour of the island. You can find out more here.

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