Gabriele Galimberti – The Ameriguns
With his “The Ameriguns” project, Gabriele Galimberti delves into a unique and abysmal area of American life. Reinforced with objects, his portraits illustrate the widespread gun fetishism in a country that counts more firearms than inhabitants. The photographer does not aim to draw the attention to the maverick, but rather to the average citizen.
It is estimated that there are somewhere between 370 and 390 million firearms in the USA; doing the maths, this implies at least one gun per citizen. In 2020 alone, close to 20,000 civilians were killed by gunfire (source: Statista, August 6, 2021) – a record number in the past ten years. Weapons have been considered a necessity for self-defence and justice, since the War of Independence from Great Britain in 1776; and the settling of the American West, around 1800. Thus, they have become par for the course, and are considered part of the culture; as often as not, they are seen as a status symbol.
“My intention was to create a portrait of the weapons culture, and of the love a part of the US American population has for firearms.”
In the USA, it is easier to find a gun store than a wine store. Even so, it is not true that all citizens own a weapon. Far from it: “The phenomenon is concentrated on a few people. I often met those who own 60 guns or more,” Galimberti remembers. There are also more weapons to be found in the southern states, than in the northern ones. “It was easy to find people, but it was not easy to find a large variety of people.” The photographer’s series aims to draw the attention to the average citizen: “...not the crazy people, because most of the people are normal,” he came to realise. He presents them using a particularly unique visual concept, where he combines portraits and objects, which he arranges around his protagonists in circles, waves or rays. In one photograph, there is even the outline of the USA. “I do not comment on politics; I am an observer. I work with humour and absurdity,” Galimberti says, reflecting on his approach. With his particular type of aesthetics, he has found the ideal form to do so.
Born in Val di Chiana, Italy, in 1977, Galimberti began his career as a commercial photographer. Nowadays, however, he focuses on international, documentary and long-term projects, some of which have been published as books. These include “Toy Stories”, “My Couch Is Your Couch”, “The Heavens” and “The Ameriguns”. He is a member of the artist collective called Riverboom, founded by Serge Michel, Paolo Woods and Claude Baechtold. Galimberti’s work has appeared in international publications, such as National Geographic, Stern, GEO, Le Monde, La Repubblica and Marie Claire. His pictures have featured in exhibitions and events around the world, including Festival Images in Vevey, Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In 2021, he came first in the Portraits category of the World Press Photo Awards.
Portrait: © Edoardo Delille