Elvis Aaron Presley died at the age of 42 in 1977, the year I was born. Growing up in 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.”
Daniel Gonçalves (the “ç” sounds like an “s”)
Daniel 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 & vulnerability.
Daniel 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, Daniel 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, Daniel 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.
Daniel’s work has been included in exhibitions at Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York, 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.
His work has been honored with Critical Mass Top 50, PhotoLA FOCUS grand prize, American Photography selected winner and as a Latin American FOTOGRAFIA selected winner.
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