Adriana Fontes


At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, a huge wave of immigrants came through the U.S. Port of Immigration on Ellis Island. They arrived in a big hall where doctors conducted twenty-second health inspections and made charcoal marks on the clothes of some passengers: “H” for suspected heart trouble, “L” for lameness, and “X” for feeble-mindedness. The individuals who were marked were removed from the line and taken across the room, where they were locked in a kind of cage. Some of the immigrants lived there for months or even years.

I hope to shed light on this practice, leading the viewer across a bridge from the past to the present-day through the abandoned Ellis Island quarantine hospital. Images of emptiness and ghostly reflection create a border between memory and imagination, addressing the feelings of solitude, exclusion, and isolation that still linger. It’s an invitation to delve into a historical moment as an homage, revisiting these facts for a kind of redemption through art. It’s also a look into what has remained, traces of a time that previously seemed stagnant, but somehow echoes in our contemporary world.