When I was a child, my younger sister and mother were held up at gunpoint in our Portuguese supermarket in Toronto, Canada. My mother broke her finger defending herself and my sister was traumatized for some time. The two men were never caught and mom bought a BB gun at K-Mart during a vacation in Florida shortly after. When we returned to Canada she would flash this fake gun in front of her customers, saying “tell them to come back, I’ve got something for them.” I remember thinking, if they ever come back, they will kill us all. Then I thought, it’s not real, but people think she has a gun and somehow this fake $9 gun may protect our family. This left a tremendous impression on me. The powerful American symbol, real or not, and the notion of vulnerability that comes with this perceived power.
I became an American citizen in 2015. During the naturalization process I was required, by law, to take an oath in which I swore to bear arms if required to do so, and to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Essentially, I swore to bear arms in order to protect the right to bear arms, against everyone including my new fellow Americans.
This is something that I’m still conflicted on today. Through this survey of American gun culture, I’m attempting to understand who the American gun owner is, how I feel about guns, and the people who own them. I’m also trying to merge the identity I grew up with and the culture I’ve chosen to be a part of.
Daniel Gonçalves is a Portuguese, Canadian & American documentary photographer who recently moved to LA.
He enjoys talking with strangers, and exploring things he doesn’t quite yet understand. As a storyteller his goal is to approach his curiosities with an open mind for understanding. His photographic work explores themes of identity, culture and the intersection of masculinity and vulnerability.
His photographic studies include explorations around Americana; gun culture, Elvis, rodeo, Texas BBQ.
Daniel’s work has been included in exhibitions at Filter Space in Chicago and Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York. He was recently honored with PhotoLA’s 2017 FOCUS grand prize and as a Latin American FOTOGRAFIA 6 selected winner.
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