TRIBECA — A piece of Ellis Island history has landed in TriBeCa.
French street artist JR is in the midst of plastering a massive mural, a recreation of early 1900s archival photo of children waylaid at Ellis Island, on the side of 100 Franklin St.
The photo is an homage to JR's recent photo installation and film about Ellis Island, the storied entryway into the U.S. for scores of immigrants. The artist pasted dozens of archival images inside a now abandoned hospital on the island last year. The haunting imagery became the background for his 15 minute film, starring Robert De Niro, called "Ellis."
The pair — De Niro and JR — were at 100 Franklin St., sharing a bike, Thursday.
The reuse of the Ellis Island imagery is a way to bring attention to the world's current refugee crisis, JR has said.
“Talking about the past is the best way to understand the present and to approach our future,” JR told the New Yorker last year in an interview.
“When I started working on ‘Ellis,’ the refugee crisis had not yet reached its current peak,” JR continued. “Walking around the abandoned hospital on Ellis Island, I could feel the presence of the hundreds of thousands of people who passed through, and of the countless ones who didn’t make it and got turned back...There were immigrants in Ellis a hundred years ago, there are migrants now, and there will be some in a hundred years, so we have to do what we can do to try to relate to each individual story.”
JR, who previously pasted a giant ballerina photo on the same wall, is known for his large-scale installation and giant photo plasters.