The Day I Spent on Ellis Island…
2010
Mixed media with audio, 25 x 25 x 25”

During the spring of 2010, I spent a day on Ellis Island and was fortunate enough to participate in a tour of the areas of the Island that are not restored and are closed to the public. This space consisted mainly of the infectious disease wards where sick immigrants were sometimes quarantined having arrived on the island with symptoms of tuberculosis, measles, smallpox and other sicknesses. Although there were very few deaths on the island, within the buildings there were at least two morgues and an “autopsy theater” made up of a multiple level observation area which particularly resonated with me and I knew I needed to explore the space further by researching and investigating the spaces I had experienced by looking into experiences of immigrants that had passed through Ellis Island, including the writer Louis Adamic. The space I created is a reference to the actual areas in Ellis Island but not a representation of them. In order to explore the effect of the interactions I and others had in the spaces, I created a hybrid of them, analyzing the uncomfortably strange effect they had in order to share this experience with those who encounter the work. Included in the audio component of the pieces is a quote from Adamic about his experience upon arriving at Ellis Island layered with video from my visit there.