"Long Live the King": a photographic exhibition exploring the devotion to Elvis Presley
On Thursday August 5th 2004, an exhibition exploring the devotion to Elvis Presley opens at Blender Gallery in Paddington, Sydney. Photographs by John Savage.
Exhibition Launch: 5th August 2004 6pm-8pm
Exhibition Extends until 24th August 2004
Blender Gallery, 16 Elizabeth Street Paddington
On Thursday July 15th 2004, a new exhibition opens at Paddington's Blender Gallery.
'Long Live the King' is a selection of images from an on-going project exploring devotion to the memory of Elvis Presley, by John Savage.
John Savage is a documentary photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand.
John is a member of the photo agency, Exposed, which is a small group of New Zealand photographers, whose aim is promoting their personal work and the medium's profile in New Zealand and internationally. Info and images from Exposed, can be viewed at their website: www.exposed.co.nz
Utilizing his background in research, writing and photography, John's particular interest is in searching out unusual individuals, events and sub-cultures. His focus is on subjects that are international rather than location- or culture-specific. John also has an interest in landscape imagery including urban environments and the way natural environments are altered by human intervention.
Throughout the exhibition 'Long Live the King', one recurring theme is the dreamlike nature of Elvis devotion. This is perhaps most obvious in the nature of the world inhabited by some of the most devoted disciples and the "Elvii" (impersonators or "tribute artists") who have come to represent a kind of Elvis priesthood. Similarly, the world inhabited by Elvis himself had a dreamlike quality, ranging from the darkened, green shag pile interiors of Graceland to the oddities of street life in downtown Memphis, Presley's hometown.
Moreover, Elvis' memory and life is intimately tied to the American Dream and all that comes with that cultural package: devotion to God, country and celebrity. And for the most devoted fans, Elvis is the centre of their dreams: a symbol of hope and goodness.
Another recurring theme is the religious nature of Elvis devotion - complete with shrines, ceremonies, relics (memorabilia), and priests (Elvii). Indeed some academics have suggested that Elvis worship has all the hallmarks of a new religion.
Majority of the images were shot during "Death Week" in Memphis in 2002, making "Death Week" the focus of the exhibition. (Officially "Elvis Week" is held each year in Memphis to celebrate Elvis's life. It is held in mid August on the anniversary of his death and many thousands of fans from all around the world attend. Memphis locals cynically refer to it as "Death Week"). Some supporting images were shot in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia. John is continually fuelling his project and further material will be gathered in Memphis this year.
'Long Live the King' photographs by John Savage will open on Thursday July 15th at Blender Gallery, Paddington at 6pm. The exhibition will run until August 24.