hoped to say goodbye to many things, but ended up loving so much more of my belongings”, explains Barbara Iweins, the Belgian photographer who loves studying human fragility, to speak about her latest photography project which came about almost if by chance.
Who has never experienced the turmoil and exhaustion of moving? Who has never been in that fateful moment of “tidying up to free up some space”? Well, Barbara has moved a good 11 times in her life, and each time it has made her feel, “terrorized for the number of things I had to pack”. And by observing all of those objects that surrounded her, KATALOG was born: an intense work that lasted two years which reflects on the concept of the instantaneous gratification that certain objects release.
Have you ever thought about the number of things we possess and how many things are on our shelves, in our drawers or wardrobes? Barbara counted up to 10,532. This is the number of objects that the photographer has immortalized in her home by working non-stop for 15 hours a week. What came out is Katalog, a true domestic photographic archive that lists everything she owns—divided by material, color, frequency of use and emotional value.
“In April 2018, when opening the last of the moving boxes, I was confronted with all my belongings once again”, comments Barbara Iweins on her website. “It made me question the continuous cycle of my insane and irrational accumulation and the relationship I have with the objects that surround me.”
From here the idea for Katalog was born. “Room after room, floor after floor, I photographed every object in my home to have a complete overview, without limitations”, the artist explains. She found an original way to consider the concept of consumerism in a sort of non-stop ritual that unexpectedly gave new life to everyday objects.
With meticulous precision, marking the objects already photographed with post-its, Barbara turned her home upside down in order to create her inventory of colors, emotions, materials and feelings. “Over time I realized that most of my possessions are more a source of confusion than pleasure”, explained Iweins. “I feel little attachment to them, but at the same time, isolating my possessions (even the most ordinary one) and classifying them according to specific criteria, gives them an importance.”
A real project, visible online on the site http://katalog-barbaraiweins.com/#images, that the photographer hopes soon becomes an exhibition open to the public was born from an almost playful experiment. It was created in order to open a reflection on consumerism and on the symbolic value of fetishistic objects from which, despite good intentions, we are unable to separate ourselves from. As the artist admits when she says, “My house can now catch fire, I can find myself on the street… as long as I have my 3 children in my pocket and my KATALOG under my arm, I think I will manage.”
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