K A T A L O G Images About Behind the Scenes Book





"What would you take with you if your house was burning?"
"I would take the fire”, replied Cocteau

s a neurotic collector, collecting, ordering, categorizing and exhibiting things have always given me immense pleasure. I think that I am mainly looking for an aesthetic emotion in the assemblage of things (or ideas) that at first glance might seem incongruous or even tasteless.

In this chaotic world, the objects surrounding me always prove to be my stable reference points... They protect me, somehow. I also feel a deep need for inertia. As a home bird, I do not wish to travel the world and discover as many countries as possible. I’d rather stay at home, or when travelling, go back to the same place over and over in order to blend in with the locals.

I’d like to keep things as they are, but my adult life decide otherwise. After many moves and a sudden divorce in 2015, I left Amsterdam and came back to live in Brussels with my three children under my arm.

Longing for more stability in my life, I felt the urge to really lock myself into my new place. I decided then and there to push the limits of my inertia and neuroticism by getting up close and personal with my belongings and analyze all of them in detail.

Following Kant, for whom the object exists but becomes acknowledged only when the subject faces it and recognize it as such, I started a radical confrontation with my possessions through my photographic lens. I entitled this long and intimate adventure ‘KATALOG’.

From then on, for four years, room by room, drawer by drawer, I photographed, indexed and classified my entire house. Absolutely everything: from my daughter's torn sock to my son's Lego, including my vibrator, my anxiolytics, absolutely everything.

12,795 photos of 12,795 objects

→ Each piece was photographed as a whole before being closed forever (any object later integrated into the room would not be part of the Katalog otherwise I might continue until my death). I then moved on to another room, and so on.
→ In order to avoid duplicates, Post-its were affixed to drawers or cupboards whose contents had been entirely photographed.

I have excluded:
→ as a tenant, the fixed things in the house that I have not chosen, such as the bathtub, the sink, etc.;
→ food, which is fleeting;
→ objects that do not have their own volume, such as papers, letters, etc.

I photograph together:
→ any object wrapped or attached to another;
→ objects that are more than 50 identical copies in all respects (sequins, straws, etc.);
→ objects forming part of a whole still present in their original container (board games, box of cotton swabs, etc.);
→ if, on the other hand, the object is no longer in its original box, it is considered unique and photographed separately (Lego brick, marble, etc.).

During my voluntary confinement, I read a lot about the search for material happiness. Over time, I realised that most of my possessions are more a source of confusion than pleasure. 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 and a certain subjective beauty. As such, even a bottle of cough syrup that leaks down the sides develops an aesthetic interest that I would like to retain. I hoped to say goodbye to many things, but ended up loving so much more of my belongings.

This performance leads me to reveal to the public all that I bought and received, all at once, without filter and without preliminary selection. It’s not an exhibition of a perfect mastered life, but the exposure of oneself pushed to its paroxysm.

Working this repetitively on my project was in a way very comforting… Even if it felt like being in Groundhog Day, it gave me a structure in life. While organising all these objects with discipline and dedication, it was like I was organising my thoughts and my life. It felt a little like necessary therapy. And now that all photos have been taken, I feel reassured in some way. All my life I have lived in fear that I could lose everything overnight, but now I will always have proof that these objects… this life… existed. 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.

The reflections carried by my KATALOG project, I wish to share them today through a frontal and immersive presentation of my work. Whether it is presented in an interior space (on a single surface or on different walls in the same room) and/or on a huge exterior surface, I want visitors to be able to project their personal experience onto it.

This monumental and immersive installation, I want it in the form of small digital projections. Each shot will be exhibited in an exceptional mass of +/- 12,000 photos. This aggregate of photographic traces visible from all angles should create mental and physical clutter in the visitor.

The visitor will then have the opportunity to classify and arrange the objects according to different angles of narration through an assembly of criteria (by color, by room, by nature of objects, by value, by frequency of use, etc.) which can be crossed and recrossed ad infinitum.

Ex: red & metal & objects from the living
Ex: all items & that are never used
Ex: all vintage & wooden objects & estimated at 20 eur
Ex: all unread books & green cover

The presentation of KATALOG will be on in 2022/2023.
Barbara IWEINS