A small island in New York Bay, Ellis Island was the busiest immigrant inspection station in the United States in the first part of the 20th century. From 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigrants arriving at the ports of New York and New Jersey were there quarantined, inspected and questioned.
Augustus Frederick Sherman was an employee in the Ellis Island Immigration Office. One of his duties was to photograph immigrants as they arrived on the island. This is how the image of a man who came from Algeria in 1905 was captured. It was simply listed as the ‘Algerian Man’.
In 2018, while planning an artist residency at Triangle Brooklyn supported by the AFAC Foundation, Oussama Tabti investigates the life of this character and his intriguing portrait. However, the artist finds himself confronted with a harsh administrative reality and, ironically, he never gets a response to his visa application. By linking his own experience to that of this immigrant from the beginning of the 20th century, the artist questions our mobility in a global world. A world divided between openness to diversity and narrow parochialism.
Laureate of the City of Brussels, Art Contest Prize 2020
With the support of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation
© Augustus F. Sherman, Algerian man, 1910 | Source : The New York Public Library Digital Collection
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