Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Balkan heartbreak a hit in Berlin

Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Balkan heartbreak a hit in Berlin
Wedding dress (photo courtesy of Zvonimir Dobrovic)
One woman donated her wedding dress to the exhibition
A travelling exhibition devoted to the theme of failed relationships is proving a hit in Berlin.

The Museum of Broken Relationships asks people in the cities it visits to donate mementos of everything from short flings to painful divorces.

Originating in Croatia, the show has visited Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia and has amassed more than 300 exhibits.

Berliners have donated more than 30 objects, including a wedding dress and an axe used to break an ex's furniture.

Zvonimir Dobrovic is organising the Berlin show in the Tacheles arts centre, a former squat in the heart of the city.

"It's such a nice, simple idea, because everyone can relate to it," he told the BBC News website.

Bike (photo courtesy of Zvonimir Dobrovic)
I left on a scorching summer's day - I thought going on foot or taking a tram would be incredibly stupid - so I got on the bike

"It's not pretentious, it's interactive, a place where people can present their own stories and compare them to others."

Members of the public are asked to give or donate an object, along with a short description of what it means to them, the time of the relationship, and where they are from.

"Even if the objects seem ordinary the stories are very individual and they make the exhibition come alive," Mr Dobrovic said.

"People really enjoy being here, we get couples who spend a long time here, looking and laughing and hoping it never happens to them, and then people who've just broken up who want to tell us their stories," he added.

Cathartic effect

The idea was born when two Zagreb artists, Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, split up and wanted to do something creative with the pain they were feeling.

"The exhibition comes from a sincere, universal experience and helped us in our break-up process", Ms Vistica told the BBC News website.

Handcuffs (photo courtesy of Zvonimir Dobrovic)
Some of the objects donated are ordinary, some more unusual

The artists decided to collect the objects left over from their relationship and put them on display and asked their friends to do the same.

Ms Vistica says the exhibition can have a therapeutic effect.

"The normal impulse is to destroy the mementos of a relationship in order to recover, but we thought of using creativity to overcome the pain of the experience and also remember the joy those objects once held for us," she said.

The cathartic effect is evident in some of the descriptions accompanying the objects.

One woman donated an axe and described chopping up the furniture of her cheating female lover.

"The more her room filled up with chopped up furniture, the more I started to feel better. Two weeks after she was kicked out she came to take the furniture. It was neatly arranged into small heaps and fragments of wood."

After Berlin the exhibition travels to Belgrade, Skopje and Stockholm and there are plans for possible shows in Tokyo, New York and Sao Paulo.

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