A skilled Italian photographer, Gabriele Galimberti traveled the world in search of a path formed by his passion. And if only by mere happenstance, that is exactly what occurred.
Using couchsurfing.org, Galimberti visited country after country and stayed with hosts of varied races, religions, ages and countenances. The kindness and trust inherent in an individual willing to make space for a complete and utter stranger was not lost on Galimberti. He intended to document the phenomenon in order to make the world a better place.
Yet two years and 58 countries later, after compiling stories of over 100 couch-surfing hosts, another idea had transpired. Inspired by a photo taken before his journey abroad, Galimberti took at least one photo of a child and his or her favorite toys in each country he visited. Toy Stories, a series of portraits, features a conglomeration of photos precisely in this manner.
The photographs document a multitude of cultures and social classes, creating a foundation for discussion of values and aspirations. Whereas Galimberti may have spent hours earning the trust of more well-off children before he was permitted to touch their toys, he describes a stark contrast in poorer countries where children were far less possessive and exhibited an increased inclination to share toys among friends and strangers.
While the project was not intended to display any particular message to viewers, the similarities and differences between children are clear. The worlds and cultures within which each child is born, and the desires parents portray in delivering specific toys to their children were clear to Galimberti. While one boy might love Monopoly because he hopes to build hotels some day, another may enjoy playing with trucks that reminds him of those he hears throughout his village each day. Regardless of socioeconomic status or the geographical context of each toy, every child expressed an equal desire to play.
That is what Toy Stories has brought to the world–an appreciation for the simplicity of toys among the many complications and expectations of everyday life here on Earth.
– Jaclyn Stutz