The Urban Lens: Flora Borsi superimposes refused Ellis Island immigrants against modern NYC scenes

Posted On Fri, June 30, 2017 By

Posted On Fri, June 30, 2017 By In Features, photography, The urban lens

6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or place within New York City. In this installment, photographer Flora Borsi presents a timely series on immigration. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

With Trump’s “anti-terror” travel ban having gone into effect Thursday night, 6sqft couldn’t think of a better time to share Hungarian photographer Flora Borsi‘s thought-provoking “Forgotten Dream.” Following a 2016 trip to Ellis Island, Borsi was moved and disturbed by the island that for decades provided a gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States, and a deathbed for another several thousand who were denied passage because of disease, mental instability, or a lack saleable skills, among other things.

With a desire to commemorate the 3,500 people who died in search of a better life, Borsi scoured historical archives for photos of real immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island around the 1900s. Because the images were originally black and white and sometimes faded, Borsi added color and superimposed them against modern New York City scenes to connect them to present day. By bringing these forgotten immigrants into the city, she says “In this way, their dream came true.”

flora borsi, the forgotten dream

“I would like to draw attention to the immigrants who wanted to live a better life in America,” she writes on her site. “I tried to connect past and present with visualizing these people in today’s environment.”

flora borsi, the forgotten dream

“Black and white images from the previous century are often forgotten, so I colorized them and retouched the damages to make [them] more connected to the present.”

flora borsi, the forgotten dream

“The images are fictional, many people couldn’t ever get into Manhattan or live in America.”

flora borsi, the forgotten dream

Though the subjects depicted harken from another era, the world’s current migration issues are wholly reflected in their visible dejection. “This is not history,” Boris says. “This is today.”

flora borsi, the forgotten dreamflora borsi, the forgotten dream

flora borsi, the forgotten dream

All images courtesy of Flora Borsi

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