The Gallerie GADCOLLECTION for the first time in Europe, the “Ellis Island” series by Stephen Wilkes.
Produced over 5 years, from 1998 to 2003, Stephen Wilkes questions the history of the United States through these buildings that all new migrants have known. Entry point to the Promised Land, Paradise and active until the 1950s, Ellis Island was then abandoned.
All photos were taken in natural light.
In a way, Stephen Wilkes felt like he was chosen to do this work: to document the light and the energy and the living spirit of this place. He never added any light, nor any artifice of the photographic profession. The artist was not just interested in the graphics born from the patina of ruin. He wanted to record the place as he found it. In the light lies the history of Ellis Island. In some yet unknown calculations of time and energy, when light passed through the rooms, it energized the past. And that’s how Stephen Wilkes found the island: the act of discovery and the act of photographing happened simultaneously.
In collaboration with the New York Landmarks Conservancy, Stephen Wilkes produced a video. This was presented to Congress. Two years later, they approved a $6 million grant to preserve the South Island.
It was a triumph, not without irony. By stabilizing buildings, many repairs were made and many of nature’s encroachments removed. The place will never look like these photographs again: current and archival at the same time. The documentation of a moment between the death of a place to which each of us can trace a family member, and its eventual resurrection as a landmark.
Stephen Wilkes : Ellis Island
March 17 to April 26, 2022
4 Rue du Pont Louis Philippe 75004 PARIS