Popped collar, greased black hair, and the moves to match - Danny Cooper could be mistaken for one the super-stars of the 20th century.
His recreation of Elvis Presley was for the Re-Imagine exhibition, which aims to challenge perceptions surrounding young people with disabilities by recreating iconic album covers with members of the disability support and empowerment group, The Cube.
Photographer Calypso Paoli said the event was months in the making and involved three full days in the studio. “Initially we started with the idea of doing famous movie posters as well as iconic album covers and we ended up sticking with the music theme just because we liked the idea of our young people being rock stars.”
They were keen to get into the roles, especially Danny.
“I think his father’s an actual Elvis impersonator. So his dad has all these real Elvis suits and we got Chris King from French Revolver Studios to make Danny a wig exactly like Elvis’s hairstyle. He put on that suit and he just transformed into Elvis; he couldn’t stop dancing, and he was really good, we were all so impressed.”
“There were so many great shots of him, he made it quite hard to select.”
She said the experience was great fun, especially for the subjects who had never been in a studio before.
The subjects chose not to look at the photos before the exhibition opened on Tuesday night, an occasion Calypso said was a little emotional.
“It was before everyone showed up, all our rock stars arrived earlier than everyone else, and they all had a look. And just their expression and their reaction was just priceless. They were just blown away. There were a few tears, not from me, not from me,” she laughed.
“We’re really hoping we’ll continue this concept for the next few years and see it grow, and have a little bit of a theme going on each year.“
“We want our youth to be viewed as real, accomplished, capable people with goals and aspirations besides those that are defined by their disabilities,” says The Cube national director Catherine Cooper.
She said the young people they work with want to reframe how they’re seen by the public.
Also organised by The Cube in the lead up to Youth Week are the I Am Not A Tickbox workshops, which aim to help understand the world view of someone living with a disability.
The exhibition is now open to the public and will run until Sunday 24th May at Silo 6 in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter.