fter moving for the eleventh time, Barbara Iweins, photographer and artist from Brussels, started a singular work of introspection:
photographing one by one the 12,795 objects of her house, indexing and classifying them by color, material, frequency of use… The crazy project of Katalog lasted
more than four years. From this “necessary therapy”, she imagined a catalog with graphic and pop compositions – a fascinating mirror of our consumer society – where an
intimate self-portrait is revealed, carried by 50 short stories both funny and moving.
A trench coat that recalls a funny event in a sad hospital, a mug that evokes a brotherly dislike, a child’s toy that personifies the memory of an unloved dog,
iPhone shells that reveal the tricks of a teenager, or a crumbling hot water bottle that preserves the pain of a separation… Through this zany inventory, Barbara Iweins
summons the memorial power of objects and invites us to share in a fascinating collective and personal memory.
Sequenced room by room, the book invites the reader to a guided tour of the house, starting with the entrance and continuing through the kitchen, the living room,
Barbara’s bedroom and those of her three children, without forgetting the bathroom and the cellar. The numbers of the objects are scattered throughout the book, proposing
an amazing pagination system, just like the project. Barbara Iweins did not only photograph 12,795 objects, she also analyzed them.
Using the performance of an Excel spreadsheet, she has established statistics on this shapeless mass, giving the story an absurd and irresistible logic with short
sentences in the caption of some plates. Some succulent examples: “90% of gloves are lost within two weeks of purchase”, “The amount spent on all the objects in the house
is estimated at 121,046 €”, “37% of the Playmobil in the house are bald” or “I have the weakness to believe that I am the only person in the world who knows that the
dominant color in her house is blue (16%)”.
From her neurotic collector’s tropism intertwined with an irrepressible need to put order in an intimate chaos, as she confesses, Barbara Iweins has created
a monumental project as much in its form as in its outcome. Behind the lightness tinged with self-mockery of the Katalog project, a work of visual anthropology
of our contemporary society takes shape.
Published by delpire & co
Weight 730g / Dimensions 17 x 22.5 cm / 368 pages / texts in French
In the press:
Libération, July 8, 2022:
Arles 2022: «Katalog», voir la vie en névrose (French)
CNN, July 7, 2022:
A photographer cataloged all 12,795 items in her house. This is what she found (English)
The accompanying exhibition is
on show at Rencontres d'Arles
from 4 July - 25 September 2022