As of this month, a long-abandoned 1902 hospital on New York's Ellis Island has a thrilling photographic installation by the French street artist JR. Century-old black-and-white photographs were enlarged to life-size proportions, and then pasted on walls, windows and other corners of the derelict Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, which is now open to the public for the first time in 60 years. The two-dozen site-specific works in the "Unframed — Ellis Island" exhibition pay homage to the 1.2 million immigrants who spent time at the once-grand 750-bed hospital before it was shuttered and fell into ruin in the 1950s.
A life-size archival photograph of a small Swedish girl stares defiantly from where it is pasted on a crumbling turquoise-painted door. An image showing members of the hospital's operating room staff is superimposed on the tiled walls of a bathroom, and a photograph of immigrants walking down a gangplank is now perfectly placed above a downward staircase. "The idea is to respect the architecture," JR told The New York Times. "I let the walls decide what part of the image should appear."
Photos via Save Ellis Island · Shadows Return to Ellis Island [New York Times]
· Forgotten Faces Fill Ellis Island Hospital Exhibit [PSFK]
· Save Ellis Island [Official site]
· A Look at the Sage Storied Buildings of the Street Artist JR [Curbed National]
· All Abandonment Issues posts [Curbed National]
· All Artistry posts [Curbed National]