Photographer Documents All 12,795 Items That She Owns

photographer's belongings

Barbara Iweins cataloged everything that she owns by photographing all 12,795 items in her house.

Going from room to room, she spent almost five years documenting every single object she owns, from loose Lego bricks and old keychains to remote controls, kitchen utensils, and miscellaneous knick-knacks.

After Iweins went through a divorce and moved house for the 11th time, she decided to take on the mammoth task of indexing and classifying her belongings by color, material, and frequency of use.


photographer's belongings

The resulting 12,795 images, made into a book, offer an intimate, unfiltered self-portrait that is an antidote to today’s social media world where “everybody’s trying to protect themselves by showing an idealized version of their lives,” Iweins tells CNN.

Iweins found that blue is the dominant color in her house, accounting for 16 percent of all items, while 22 percent of her clothes are black. 43 percent of items in her bathroom are made from plastic, while some 90 percent of the cables in her house are never used, and 19 percent of her books remain unread.

The Belgian photographer says the project made her realize she bought things that she already had, items that were lost, such as metal combs used to extract headlice from her children’s hair.

photographer's belongings

photographers belongings

Iweins inputted all of her data into an excel spreadsheet which established statistics on her shapeless mass, such as 90 percent of gloves are lost within two weeks of purchase.

The total value of all the objects in Iweins’ house is estimated to be €123,169, and 37 percent of her Playmobil figures are bald.

book cover

photographers belongings

Over the years, Iweins dedicated an average of 15 hours a week to the project. Bringing order to the chaos became a kind of “therapy” that helped her overcome not only her divorce but the subsequent death of her boyfriend.

“When I started, I really believed that I was exhausted of moving home and moving my stuff around,” she tells CNN.

“And then I realized that it wasn’t about that at all. It was more like an act of self-preservation — that photographing every day was really about organizing my life in my head. It was a positive process.

“Now that the project is done, and I have identified which objects are valuable, I can start living. Everything was there for a reason, I guess.”

More of Iweins work can be found on her website.

Image credits: All photos by Barbara Iweins.