The Heartbreak Museum: Croatia Displays the Symbols of Unsuccessful Love

by Tanya Thomas on  October 14, 2010 at 10:23 AM Lifestyle News
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An iron used for a wedding suit, a rear-view mirror broken in a jealous fit and a lower leg prosthesis -- at first it's hard to find any link between the items on display at a new museum in Croatia.
 The Heartbreak Museum: Croatia Displays the Symbols of Unsuccessful Love
The Heartbreak Museum: Croatia Displays the Symbols of Unsuccessful Love

But every exhibit in the Museum of Broken Relationships has one thing in common -- it tells the story of a lost love.

These material remnants of failed romances down the years are sometimes mundane, sometimes bizarre, sometimes funny, sad or even kinky.

The prosthesis is laid out on a white pillar, tastefully lit. It belonged to a Croat war invalid who had an affair with a social worker.

"The prosthesis lasted longer than our love. It was made of sturdier material," says the caption.

Others exhibits include a tool used to axe an ex-girlfriend's furniture, a red wig from New York and garterbelts from Sarajevo.

"I never put them on. The relationship might have lasted longer if I did," laments the donor.

The idea for the museum came five years ago when artists Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, who broke up after four years together, discussed how to preserve the heritage of a broken emotional relationship.

"Inspired by our own situation we discussed the idea that everything that was nice once and has changed should not be destroyed but rather preserved in a certain way," Vistica said.

"So in 2006 we launched the project, calling it the Museum of Broken Relationships, in which people could kind of store their feelings.

"The concept is that people have a sort of cathartic experience, getting rid of the burden of a failed relationship by donating items from their personal stories."

Although some may baulk at revealing such personal details, Grubisic believes the main motive of donors, who remain anonymous, is to symbolically close a chapter in their life.

"All major events in our lives, like weddings or funerals, are accompanied with a sort of a ritual while only in break-ups is one alone.

"This in a way provides a kind of a ritual. Through a donation to the museum an object changes its context and becomes something else," the 41-year-old explained.

The newly-opened exhibition in Zagreb has provoked lively interest in both Croatia and abroad.

Over the past four years, it has toured around 20 locations in Europe, North A merica, Asia and Africa.

"The original project actually outgrew us so as soon as a suitable location was found we moved to open it as a permanent exhibition," Vistica says.

Exhibits are displayed in rooms with themes such as "Rage and Fury" and "Whims of Desire."

Each is accompanied with a caption giving the length of the relationship, place of origin and donor's explanation.

Other exhibits include the prayers said by a Filipino girl for her fiance after he was fatally injured in a car crash and a love letter written by a 13-year-old boy fleeing the Bosnian capital Sarajevo at the start of the 1990s war.

Donors are mostly women, according to Vistica and Grubisic, except in Turkey where to their surprise most came from men.

At the museum's website one can make a virtual donation, by sending an e-mail, a picture or an SMS text message, but Grubisic says that for the time being people seem to prefer to donate the actual objects.

"It is a great concept. I like it since it puts in focus human stories in the form of an artistic exhibition. A true story that becomes and art," visitor Domagoj Blazevic, 31, told AFP while touring the museum.

"It is at the same time funny and poetic, but I can also feel a painful tone," added singer Ivanka Mazurkijevic.

Source: AFP

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