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AUTHOR BOOK AWARD Shortlist, Rencontres d'Arles 2023
Nominated for the Bob Calle Award 2023
Publication date : 2022/06/23
Weight 730g / Dimensions 17 x 22.5 cm / 368 pages / texts in French
Exhibition at L'Appartement Espace Images Vevey from March 8 to May 14, 2023
Exhibition at the Rencontres d'Arles in 2022
« Absolutely everything went into it: from my daughter’s holey sock to my son’s Lego, to my vibrator, to my anti-anxiety medication, to everything, absolutely everything.»
After 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.
One of the 50 stories from Katalog :
Your days at the hospital are long. Today, I decided to give you a somewhat daring surprise. Completely naked, I put on heels and wrap myself in a suede trench coat. As I slam the door, I giggle inwardly but I don’t back down. I slowly gain confidence as I walk along the avenue de Messidor towards the streetcar stop. Suddenly, I feel a draft on my thighs. Strange… I touch the back of the trench coat and realize with horror that it is split from the top of the thighs! I’ve been walking around for ten minutes with my ass in the air. That’s me! Even if I try to be sexy, I’m getting the shame of the century.
12.09.2018 (44 years)