Portrait Week: Daniel Gonçalves: Letters to Elvis
This week are are featuring portrait projects, the first two seen at CENTER’s Review Santa Fe.
What is it about Elvis that makes us want to slip into a bedazzeled jumpsuit, slide on a set of mirrored aviators and practice that ubiquitous lip and hip curl? What is this persona of sexual manhood that keeps us coming back for more, in whatever incarnation we can muster? Photographer Daniel Gonçalves set out to understand this phenomenon with a series of portraits that reflect the tip of the iceberg of Elvis Tribute Artists. The portraits reflect a sense of intimacy and curiosity, looking deep to understand this particular population.
Works from his project, Letter to Elvis were recently collected and exhibited by the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Daniel Gonçalves (the “ç” sounds like an “s”) is a portrait and long form documentary photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. His work explores themes of identity, culture, and the intersection of masculinity and vulnerability.
Gonçalves was born in Toronto, Canada, to a Portuguese immigrant family. Growing up, he was fascinated with America and what it means to be American. In 2015, Gonçalves became a U.S. citizen, yet his childhood curiosities about American culture did not vanish upon gaining citizenship. Instead, they became the focus of his work.
In his photographs, Gonçalves draws upon his perspective as an outsider-insider to explore American culture – the threads that bind people together and the ways in which those connections create an American experience.
Gonçalves’s work is currently exhibited at the Long Beach Museum of Art and was recently exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His work has also been included in exhibitions at Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York, Candela Gallery, Houston Center for Photography, Filter Space in Chicago, Edition ONE Gallery in Santa Fe, Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, CA, and Moran Arts Foundation in Sydney, Australia.
In 2022 he was named one of “The 30 Photographers to Watch” (f.k.a. PDN’s 30). His work has been honored with Critical Mass Top 50, Candela Collection acquisition prize, PhotoLA FOCUS grand prize, American Photography selected winner and as a Latin American FOTOGRAFIA selected winner.
Work by the artist is part of the prominent museum collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Candela Collection.
Follow Daniel on Instagram: @fotobia
Letters to Elvis
Elvis Aaron Presley died at the age of 42 in 1977, the year I was born. Growing up in Canada, American music was not a significant influence in my life, but the curiosity of what it meant to be American was tied to my understanding of what drew people to Elvis.
How did this man who had a sad, lonely and tragic end, have such an enduring pull on people across generations, and from all corners of the world? Over the course of 3 years, I visited Memphis in search of the answer to this question.
Fans from across the globe making a pilgrimage to Graceland to pay their respects, men, old and young, dedicating their lives to paying tribute to Elvis, and those who immortalize him with ink on their skin — these are the people I wanted to understand. I asked them to write letters to Elvis with the understanding that he would absolutely read them.
As one fan succinctly put it: “If you’re an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary. If you’re not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible.”
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
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