Who Needs International Fame?

A photo project captures local celebrities from around the world.

At one point, being an international celebrity seemed to be a considerable accomplishment. Remember John Lennon stating that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus? If you can say one positive thing about the Justin Biebers, Lindsay Lohans, and Kim Kardashians of the world, it’s that they’ve made the absurdity of celebrity worship crystal clear. Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti spent two years traveling through five continents, capturing subjects who wield extraordinary cultural power. Galimberti’s subjects elicit curiosity more than they do prostration. “They are admired, but they are also your neighbors,” says Galimberti. “People talk about them at the bar, and race to offer them a coffee when they enter. They are called by their first name.” In our hyper-connected age of late capitalism, who really wants to be bigger than Jesus, if you can be a local celebrity?