ELVIS: THE PERSONAL ARCHIVES
Photographs by Jeff Scott. Text by E.A. Carmean, Jr.
Channel Photographics, New York, 2005. 120 pp.,
100 four-color illustrations, 8 1/2 x 11”.
Each year, thousands flock to the Memphis home of Elvis Presley, not only to pay homage, but also to marvel at the curiosities therein - the sequined jumpsuits, the gold seatbelts of the plane, the jungle room -- all perfectly preserved in the extravagant 1970s time capsule of Graceland. With the cooperation of the Elvis Presley estate, artist Jeff Scott gained unlimited access to the King's personal possessions and property to create a complex portrait of the music legend through his belongings. Scott goes beyond the kitsch to resurrect the ultimate American icon, revealing the humanity of Elvis behind the recognizable celebrity veneer. ‘These artifacts are loaded with subtext that contain clues to uncovering deeper aspects of Elvis’s character.’ Indeed, Presley’s possessions span between his excessively materialistic persona and his private reality, and Scott's keen eye for detail takes us on a unique tour through the estate. Elvis’s driver’s license, at once a banal Tennessee document and a charged remainder of the celebrity idol, raises larger questions of identity. The way Scott juxtaposes the King’s gun collection and vanity police badges reveals a fundamental rift between Presley’s rebellious reputation and his private obsession with police and authority. The gold bedside telephone, the TV with a bullet hole through the screen, and the travel trunk filled with scarves still in their dry-cleaning plastic provide a rare portrayal of Elvis’s inner life, placing the public man in an intimate context. Throughout, Scott explores our complex relationship with modern celebrity culture and the ways in which our possessions and material objects outlive us to tell our story.
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