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Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

After getting divorced and shifting home for the eleventh time, Barbara Iweins determined to take inventory of her life and all the things in it.

Going from room to room, he spent practically 5 years documenting each merchandise he owns, from free Lego blocks and outdated key chains to distant controls, kitchen utensils and diverse trinkets.

The ensuing 12,795 photos supply an intimate, unfiltered portrait of the Belgian photographer. His warts-and-all method (a vibrator and a dental forged of his tooth are among the many many private gadgets in stock) is nearly the antithesis of as we speak’s social media, by which customers intently choose what they disclose to the person. world.

“Everyone seems to be making an attempt to guard themselves by displaying an idealized model of their lives,” Iweins mentioned by telephone from France, the place among the photos are at the moment on show on the Rencontres d’Arles pictures competition. “So I assumed, ‘Okay, I will present all of it; it needs to be actual.'”
Whereas photographing his possessions, Iweins sorted them by coloration, materials, and the way usually they have been used (from as soon as a day to by no means). His spreadsheet offered a flood of concepts, each shocking and enjoyable. Blue is the dominant coloration in her home, accounting for 16% of all gadgets, whereas 22% of her garments are black. Of the gadgets in her toilet, 43% are fabricated from plastic. About 90% of the cables in her home are by no means used and 19% of her books stay unread.

Amongst his most surprising findings was the abundance of metallic combs used to extract lice from the hair of his three youngsters. “It is one thing we’re shedding on a regular basis, and I came upon I had six or seven of these items,” she mentioned. “I used to be amazed in any respect the issues she misplaced on a regular basis and acquired again.”

An example of the many articles that appear in Barbara Iweins' "Catalogue."

An instance of the numerous gadgets that seem within the Barbara Iweins “Catalogue”. Credit score: Barbara Iweins

The mission has led the photographer to replicate on her personal materialism and the consumerism of society basically. She estimates that 121,046 euros (about $124,000) was spent on your entire contents of her residence, though her stock revealed that only one% of the gadgets had sentimental worth. Nonetheless, she retains what she calls a “connection” to her 1000’s of possessions.

“It is sort of unhappy,” he mentioned. “And I completely get it, as a result of my mates are principally vacationers they usually actually take a look at me a bit of bit pityingly, however having (a relationship with my stuff) places me comfortable.”

And though she calls herself a “neurotic collector”, the photographer doesn’t take into account herself a hoarder. “I give away quite a bit, I do not purchase an excessive amount of, I feel I am a traditional individual,” she mentioned.

“I do know it is quite a bit,” he added. “However I assumed it could be extra.”

An act of ‘self-preservation’

In a brand new companion e-book to the sequence, titled “Katalog,” the photographer types her possessions by kind, with whole pages dedicated to writing devices, cleansing merchandise, and toy animals. When seen en masse, the photographs tackle a hypnotic graphic high quality, revealing seemingly limitless variations of on a regular basis varieties.

And whereas they’re usually mundane in isolation, the person photos comprise the tales of her life: the raunchy novel she picked up from her father’s library at age 16, the hospital bracelet she wore when she gave beginning, or the antihypertensive remedy anxiousness that he began taking when he was in his early 40s.

Through the years, Iweins put in a median of 15 hours per week on the mission. Bringing order to chaos grew to become a sort of “remedy” that helped her get by means of not solely her divorce however the subsequent dying of her boyfriend.

“After I began, I actually thought I used to be bored with shifting residence and shifting my stuff round,” she mentioned. “After which I spotted that it wasn’t about that in any respect. It was extra like an act of self-preservation, that doing one thing (for the sequence) each day was actually organizing my life in my head. It was a optimistic course of.

“Now that the mission is completed and I’ve recognized which objects are beneficial, I can begin residing,” he added. “Every thing was there for a motive, I suppose.”

Catalogue” is exhibited on the Rencontres d’Arles pictures competition till September 25, 2022. A companion e-bookrevealed by Delpire & Co, is now accessible.

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