Julia Nemfield’s Lost and Found series explores the projected value assigned to objects through ownership, and the subsequent loss of this value when an item has been separated from its owner. Nemfield is interested in such “valueless” objects, and has been influenced by psychological studies that address the positive associations and bonds created when owners acquire objects, believing that when an object is lost, a piece of the self is lost as well.
In the fall of 2017, Nemfield spent three months documenting 364 objects found in seven different lost and founds throughout Toronto. Photographed starkly against a white background, the artist meticulously categorized and organized the objects into grids. Such re-staging furthers themes of isolation and separation while providing viewers with an opportunity to evaluate and compare the mundane items.
In addition to the grids are self-portraits depicting Nemfield interacting with—often wearing—the lost items. This lighthearted gesture reassigns value to the objects, freeing them from feelings of nostalgia and from their position as orphans. The portraits also provide a reflection on the physiological and psychological associations made between the self and objects, with Nemfield acting as proxy for the original owner.