Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom

( 1 )

Overview

"Wilkes's photographs of the 'dark side' of Ellis Island are extraordinary...this book will be a major event." —David McCullough
For five years (1998-2003) New York photographer Stephen Wilkes explored the hospital complex that comprised the south side of Ellis Island. Neglected for almost fifty years, the buildings were in a state of extreme disrepair: lead paint peeled from the ceilings and walls, vines and trees grew through the floorboards, detritus and debris littered the hallways. In rooms long-abandoned, ...

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Overview

"Wilkes's photographs of the 'dark side' of Ellis Island are extraordinary...this book will be a major event." —David McCullough
For five years (1998-2003) New York photographer Stephen Wilkes explored the hospital complex that comprised the south side of Ellis Island. Neglected for almost fifty years, the buildings were in a state of extreme disrepair: lead paint peeled from the ceilings and walls, vines and trees grew through the floorboards, detritus and debris littered the hallways. In rooms long-abandoned, Wilkes captured a spirited new vision of this gateway to freedom. Twelve million people passed through Ellis Island. Approximately one percent were turned away for health reasons. Wilkes's powerful images of the underbelly of the island—a purgatory between freedom and captivity—ask us to reflect on the defining experiences of millions. With that rare combination of an eye that sees far beyond the lens with the technical acumen of a master draftsman, Wilkes takes us on an unforgettable journey through our collective past.

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Editorial Reviews

Good Housekeeping
A sleeper choice for anyone who thinks a picture is worth a thousand words.— Ellen Heltzel
Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley
“Wilkes takes us on a journey through our collective past.”
Lucy Davies - The Daily Telegraph
“The most unusual, thoughtful and stirring collection of images I have seen in years.”
Rebecca Robertson - ArtNews
“His vivid and otherworldly photographs of the crumbling corridors and rooms, taken over five years, make up this remarkable book.”
Ellen Heltzel - Good Housekeeping
“A sleeper choice for anyone who thinks a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Continental Magazine
“Wilkes's stunning photographs—taken over the course of five years—make this book a beautiful historical document.”
The Daily Telegraph
The most unusual, thoughtful and stirring collection of images I have seen in years.— Lucy Davies
ArtNews
His vivid and otherworldly photographs of the crumbling corridors and rooms, taken over five years, make up this remarkable book.— Rebecca Robertson
Lurzer's Archive
“A fascinating and haunting collection of images in which Wilkes captures an alternate vision of this 'gateway to freedom.'”
Library Journal
Ellis Island, in operation from 1892 to 1954, was the gateway to America for some 12 million people, many of whom fell ill and so were detained in a hospital on the southern end of the island. Wilkes photographed the disintegrating hospital and its environs between 1998 and 2003, using only a 4x5 view camera and natural light. The resulting images force us to question our assumptions about a historic immigration experience that informs the collective identity of many Americans. If it is possible to photograph emotion housed in spaces, Wilkes has done it, creating an empathetic portrait of longing and loss from peeling paint, empty chairs, and often ethereal light. The feeling of suspended attainment the patients must have felt is embedded in the buildings, which are themselves suspended between abandoned functionality and the oddly verdant invasion of ruin: ivy, rust, paint decay, weather, and time. Simple and elegant in design, the book contains 77 color images interleaved with moving quotes from former patients. A seven-page image directory includes Wilkes's informative descriptions of the spaces and his sometimes eerie experience photographing them. Recommended for large public and academic fine art collections, the book could also cross over as a meaningful addition to American history collections.-Debora Miller, Minneapolis Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393061451
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/16/2006
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 699,113
  • Product dimensions: 10.40 (w) x 13.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

For more than two decades, Stephen Wilkes has been widely recognized for his fine art and photography. The winner of numerous honors and awards for his work, he lives in Westport, Connecticut.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2006

    Extremely Moving

    From the poignant introduction by Senator Bill Bradley, to the terse but moving quotations sprinkled throughout, the written word in 'Ellis Island Ghosts of Freedom' serves a fitting backdrop to the brilliance of Mr. Wilkes¿ photography. One can hear the echoes of voices past, as if amplified by the camera¿s lens. This work should resonate with all Americans, whether touched directly through their ancestors or by the integral contributions made by those who passed through these halls.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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