How a Child's Lost Mixtape Turned up in an Art Exhibit 20 Years Later — and Was Spotted by Its Owner
In the ultimate story of lost and found, a 12 year-old girl lost her homemade mixtape in the early 1990s only to find it as part of a Stockholm art exhibit over two decades later.
Stella Weddell lost the cassette tape — that was complete with Disney songs, and tracks by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and Shaggy — when she was visiting the Costa Brava resort of Empuriabrava, Spain.
Fast forward to 2019, Weddell was at an exhibit by photographer Mandy Barker at Fotografiska Gallery in Stockholm, Sweden when she saw a very familiar object on display: her mixtape. At first, Weddell wasn’t sure if the tape was actually hers until she compared the track list to a CD she still had with the exact same songs, according to a press release obtained by Travel + Leisure.
In what Barker described as "an astounding coincidence," on Instagram, she recalled to T+L on Friday that, "I sent the mixtape to a professional audio restorer to restore the 25 year old tape who recovered the playlist and that I then included in my exhibition at Fotografiska Gallery in Sweden."
The tape managed to travel more than 1,200 miles from Mallorca to Playa de Barlovento de Jandía, a Spanish island off the coast of Africa before washing up on a beach in 2017 when it was found by Barker.
She then included the tape in her traveling exhibition, “Sea of Artifacts,” which documents plastic pollution across the world.
Barker contacted Richard Thompson, head of the international marine litter research unit at the University of Plymouth, to verify that the tape could have traveled so far.
“It is very difficult to say exactly how long the tape has been in the sea, but the fact it has survived intact shows the durability of plastic and the threat it can pose to the marine environment,” he said.
Weddell emailed Barker in 2019 to say that she thought the mix tape might be hers. “When I was reading the tracklist it seemed very familiar to me,” she said. “So I took a picture of it and compared it with the original CD from 1993 which I still have — and it was exactly the same tracklist, but starting with track three.”
The first two tracks on the CD version weren’t included on the cassette when Weddell made it. She said that she would often make mixtapes from CDs in order to listen to them on her Walkman while on vacation.
“To be honest I couldn’t quite believe it for a while. Even after getting the tape to play, it was then an astounding chance for Stella to walk into my exhibition and recognize her tape,” Barker said.
The tape is still a part of Barker’s exhibition, which includes 46 other artifacts. It ran in Stockholm from June to August of 2019 and most recently ran at Fotografiska in Tallinn, Estonia from November 2019 to February 2020, according to her website.
It’s unclear what will happen to the tape in the future. If anything, Weddell still has this unlikely happenstance to remember it by.
Below is the complete track list of the mixtape:
- DJ BoBo – Somebody Dance With Me - 1993
- Charles and Eddie – Would I Lie To You? - 1992
- Walt Disney Records – The Jungle Book Groove – 1967 (With movie)
- Inner Circle – Rock With You - 1992
- SNAP! – Do You See The Light - 1993
- Dr Alban – One Love - 1992
- Captain Hollywood Project – More And More - 1993
- Shaggy – Oh Carolina - 1993
- Urban Cookie Collective – I’ve Got The Key - 1994
- Bitty McClean - It Keeps Rainin’ (Tears From My Eyes) - 1993
- Loft – Summer Summer - 1994
- Undercover – Never Let Her Slip Away - 1992
- Dance 2 Trance – I Believe In The Power Of American Natives - 1992
- Bob Marley – Iron Lion Zion - 1984
- Sweet Harmony – The Beloved - 1992
- KC and The Sunshine Band – Give It Up - 1982
- Pet Shop Boys – Go West - 1993
- Soul Asylum – Runaway Train - 1992
- UB40 – (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You - 1993
- Culture Beat – Mr. Vain - 1993