JR “Unframed - Ellis Island”

October 2, 2014

It seems that within the boundaries of the digital world, we have forgotten about those bygone interactions between cultures, those which have shaped entire periods in recent history… Thus, we come to a realisation that we are in need of discourses which seek to shed light on our humanity. We are in need of understanding the movement of people which is not solely virtual. This is where the goodheartedness of street art can be of service – can find a way to point out that which is important. This is a story of one cultural project and one street artist

JR “Unframed - Ellis Island”
Ellis Island

Save Ellis Island Project

The story of Ellis Island is a story of great migrations to the United States. What is more, it is the story of people who had to travel a long way only to continue to reside so close to their goal. Ellis Island served as a base for imigrants who were too sick to enter the country. In total, 12 million imigrants came through Ellis Island during the years of great migrations to the USA. They resided in this place with a view of the Statatue of Librety, reminded every day how close, yet how far they had been from their future home. Save Ellis Island (SEI) is a project with a goal to preserve the historic heritage of the island by rehabilitating 29 historic buildings. In addition, the project wishes to convey the importance of understanding the process of immigration in time of a globalized world. In partnership with the National Park Service, the project aspires to re-dedicate the buildings for public education and enjoyment.

JR “Unframed - Ellis Island”
JR, artwork (photo Joshua Bright for New York Times)

JR’s Ellis Island

JR has created an inspiring new installation on Ellis Island called “Unframed – Ellis Island” which brings to life a landmark building, patients and medical staff, making the hospital open to the public for the first time in 60 years. Known for his giant monochromatic posters, JR has created portraits from archival photos which were taken a century ago around the hospital and inside the buildings. The pieces were carefully selected and placed within the space of the hospital with respect to the architecture, as JR said. The whole installation is thought out and executed with site-specific notions in mind. JR has said that he will let the “walls decide what part of the image should appear.” The guided tours began on October 1st 2014.

JR “Unframed - Ellis Island”
JR (photo Joshua Bright for New York Times)

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