Having read about it recently in the news (okay, the BT Yahoo home page), I was drawn with unnatural curiosity to The Museum of Broken Relationships. A collection revealed to the public in Croatia just last month, the museum’s assortment of heartbreak memorabilia boasts a variety of sweet to out-and-out strange exhibits; you can view anything from fluffy handcuffs and wedding dresses, to prosthetic legs, sex toys, and revenge-bent axes.
The founders of Croatia’s newest museum say the aim behind their venture was to offer a way of overcoming “an emotional collapse through creation”. Giving away the poignant remnants of a breakup is definitely an original, and perhaps even a healthy, way of dealing with and expressing suffering and upset. Let’s face it – it’s probably better than clinging onto an ex’s fluffy handcuffs just so you can snivel into them whenever a melancholic mood strikes.
Each artefact is accompanied by a short statement, a sentiment explaining the importance of the item to its reluctant owner. Some are short and reflective, whilst some are still littered with bitterness and pain; “I love you“ – WHAT A LIE! LIES, DAMN LIES!” I wondered what reasons people had for wanting to donate their painful memories to the museum…and it got me thinking about why we want to visit.
I can see the appeal of sharing the history of objects. I like old things: Books, clothes, china, photographs…even written on postcards. I enjoy reading scrawled inscriptions at the front of second-hand books and wondering where my charity shop dresses have been worn before. I like the idea that an object that seems meaningless can be teeming with emotion for someone else. But painful emotion? Not so much.
Why are we poring over the failed relationships of our fellow human beings? Is it simply irrepressible curiosity, or do we really revel in each other’s misery?
Has our Facebook culture gone too far? Do we really need to show the world our holiday photos and the intimate relics of our devastating heartbreak?
I’m not sure even I’d have anything interesting enough to share: at a push maybe a couple of borrowed books and a solitary sock….
Published on http://www.razzmag.wordpress.com on November 28th 2010.