I stumbled across this article, when I was researching for the last post I did, and thought it was an incredible idea for a photographic project, and produced some incredible images.
It is titled, “Toy Stories“, by Italian photographer, Gabriele Galimberti, who spent 18 months traveling the world taking photographs of children with their favourite toys. As the article says, he spent some time playing with each of the children before helping them arrange their toys neatly on the ground, before taking several portraits of the child next to their toys.
His photograph’s reflected each different child’s world by illuminating their interests, personalities, families, cultures and wealth.
As Gamimberti discovered, there was some significant and obvious relationships between a child’s socioeconomic class and their personality.
“The wealthiest children were more possessive of their belongings, refusing to let Galimberti touch the toys at first. Building rapport with those kids took longer. The poorer children were much more receptive to Galimberti and were more generous with their fewer belongings. In the poorest countries, children often had very few toys, and therefore spent most of their time outdoors with friends.”
This project is special for several reasons, including that Gamimberti traveled so long and far to collect these photos, and that he was able to capture a snapshot of such a wide range of cultural and economic situations through such a simple vehicle. It reminds me of a quote by French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Galimberti chose the denominator common to all societies; children, and then picked a thing that is almost exclusively shared by this common denominator; toys. He gave us insight, not only into the world of the child, but the reality of the society that child was from, highlighting the different values favoured in different places around the world.
But mostly, this project is special because of the sense of nostalgia it creates in everyone who sees the photos, as they remember back to their own childhoods and cannot help but wonder what might have been in their portrait. It takes you back to all of those small pieces of plastic and metal that are either in landfill now, or are sitting in a box that collects dust in an attic or storage container somewhere. Those tokens, no, those idols, that you might have received as a Christmas present from an uncle, or your parent bought you one day after weeks of listening to your nagging, or that especially sacred first purchase with saved pocket money.
What was so special about them? Can you even remember now? Was it really that long ago?