Mylonas, Eleni. "Journey Through Ellis Island" PS1 Museum solo exhibition, 1986

Ellis Island is enveloped by a tremendous intensity of emotion. The passage of countless souls has left behind a strong human presence anchored in its emptiness. 

Like Pompeii, Ellis combines the quality of time at a standstill together with life in perpetual motion. Like a pebble or a piece of driftwood in bears witness to the passage of time, to change, to nature's own path to what we see as chaos and decay. 

Ironically, this island of contradictions will soon open once more go through major changes. Whichever its fate, once cleanup crews arrive and the restoration begins, the magic that it holds today will be swept away forever. 

It is this magic that I have attempted to preserve. 

I worked on Ellis Island for three months during the fall of 1983. I wandered around alone, in silence, letting myself be guided by unknown forces beckoning me this way or that, compelling me to return to the same places again and again or to explore unlikely desolate corners of the endless maze. 

Disturbed only by the sound of pigeon's wings or the approaching footsteps pf another rare visitor I saw the light making its rounds, a little different every moment, every day, and yet the same.  

I heard the voices of the millions of people who came through here, building a temple with their highest joys and deepest sorrows, men women and children who made it through to a new life or who died straining to look through a dusty mirror at what they could not possess. 

Eleni Mylonas, 1984