the museum of broken relationships

When I first heard about the Museum of Broken Relationships I knew it would be the kind of thing I had to go and see. It's not that I enjoy sharing other peoples' heartbreak, I just think it's an interesting concept for a travelling museum. Well, that and it sounded like the kind of thing I could get really pretentious about - I do so love discussing art shows in a bitterly ironic way. Damn those three years at art school - they've ruined my genuine enjoyment of art!

In each city where the exhibition is shown, the museum puts out a "call for donations" - an opportunity for the heartbroken to get rid of items that hold memories of a failed relationship. The objects are displayed alongside their stories, including information like dates and length of the relationship, and while some are just a few lines of poetic text, some are long tales of a love affair that was never to be. With a mix of poignant, beautiful and tragic stories, the exhibition is a bit of an emotional roller-coaster. I saw at least two people crying.

As you would expect, some objects are paired with sagas of great loss, some with tragic stories of young love, but some of the objects and stories have a slightly creepier, darker side to them. The main space in which the exhibition is held is dark and warm, with the objects displayed all around you - most on fabric-covered lit-up boxes but some are hanging from the ceiling above you, which just adds to the odd atmosphere. It's not an uncomfortable feeling exactly, but somehow you feel as though you shouldn't really be seeing this stuff and, of course, it's the most personal stories that create the weird sense of voyeurism.

Sharing the space with these objects and their stories are a series of large, intricate hand-cut papercuts by Alice Bray. The combination is very effective - the delicateness and fragility of the paper creations complements the delicateness and fragility of human emotion.

It's incredibly profound that despite the range of items, from the mundane to the lavish to the ludicrous to the plain odd, despite the lengths of the relationships, despite the country of origin, despite the value of the objects, they all manage to represent such similar personal stories and remnants of a broken relationship.

The Museum was originally created in Croatia by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubiši, and although it has a permanent home in Zagreb, has travelled all over the world.

This is the first time the exhibition has come to London and it is currently spread across two venues in Covent Garden - Tristan Bates Theatre and 38 Earlham Street.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is open until 4th September - for more information see the gallery info here.

3 hellos:

Siobhan said...

I'm not sure I could handle it but thanks for sharing.

Claire said...

Oh that sounds cool!


Vixie said...

Kaz and I still have our tickets, which don't expire until Sunday. If you'd like me to bring them on Saturday you could pop in and see it!

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