Gabriele Galimberti // Toy Stories From Around the World.
Likely one of the most breathtaking photo collections that we’ve highlighted in LONER Magazine to date, we present to you Gabriele Galimberti’s “Toy Stories”.
Gabriele Galimberti, is a 45 year old Italian photographer with a deep history in documentary photography. In Gabriele’s own words, his work aims to capture “people around the world, recounting their peculiarities and differences, the things they are proud of and the belongings with which they surround themselves” (src).
Toy Stories is a collection that, when taken at face value, is simply an assortment of pictures featuring children and their toys - But when you really take the time to sit with the series it becomes so much more than that.
The collection showcases children from more than 50 countries in their homes, showing off their toys, stuffed animals and various playthings.
Some toys you’ll see in the series include; Miniature acoustic guitars, playstations, stuffed animals, plastic sunglasses, kitchen sets, legos, toy guns and He-Man Master of the Universe replica swords are all items that can be found pictured in the collection - painting a subtle picture of who, what, and where - all without ever saying a word.
It’s this element of diversity that makes the collection so powerful. We see children from every background and socioeconomic situation standing alongside what we can only surmise are their favorite playthings. On the flip side the collection also tells a story of vast inequalities that can’t be attributed to just one country.
By portraying so many different living situations in many different countries, Toy Stories inadvertently allows us, the viewers, to come to our own conclusions about diversity, class, and the imaginative nature of childhood - seemingly through the lens of the child themselves.
One of the most impactful pieces of the project is - Toy Stories shows children who, as far as we can tell, have little to nothing (One stuffed animal, one or two hand me down plastic dinosaurs) starkly juxtaposed alongside children who seemingly have it all (race cars, educational books, model airplanes, a collection toy guns etc.). Toy Stories shows us who has, and who “has not” while letting us make assumptions about how each child views their personal situations and / or possessions.
What immediately comes to mind as you flip through the full series is; the more toys a child has, the more each item seems to fit with its owner. This perhaps speaks to how, as a person has the ability to choose what they surround themselves with, the more their environment becomes tailored to their interests and personality - while that is seldom an option for those who grow up with less.
To close, Gabriele truly does something fantastic with this series.
Having gone through the entire collection a half dozen times or so - I never fail to feel a flurry of different emotions with each page turn. Sadness, nostalgia, happiness, giddy, discontent are all pieces of that emotional puzzle.
Our recommendation - check out the full collection (or buy Gabriele’s book) and experience it for yourself. Also in the meantime take a deep dive into some of Gabriele’s other, similar collections including, In her kitchen, Working class heroes and, Home Pharma. You can also follow their work on Instagram.
Thanks for reading. See you again soon.