Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic broke up in 2003 in Zagreb, Croatia. Like most post-
relationship humans, they had ordinary objects kicking around their houses that sparked emotions, relating to the relationship, or the demise of it. The two artists joked about starting a museum. They asked their friends for their relationship remnants. They got them.
They displayed the ordinary objects in a shipping container in their Croatian city. It went over well. Now the exhibition travels the world, collecting sad bits as it goes: hence, the Museum of Broken Relationships. “It’s such a European thing to do,” says Anne Deck of the whole enterprise.
Deck is an intern at the Yukon Art Centre Gallery — where the exhibition is coming on March 5. It’s the first time it will be on display in Canada. “It’s so creative, and off-the-wall.”
And, it’s interactive. Everywhere the museum travels, it calls for local submissions. Deck has been working to take in artifacts from Yukon relationsthat-were. The last showing was in San Francisco. Deck recalls that there was one previous to that in Tokyo.
“It will have a different resonance here. People might recognize the items, or the stories.” There has been a very positive response to the call for submissions in this northern territory. Deck tells of a vintage lamp with a big smile.
Did you want to keep it? “Yes, totally, we were just talking about that. It’s such a nice lamp.” She hasn’t read the story attached to the lamp, yet, but it’s a great lamp.
Every submission can have a story — it can be vague, or specific, or poetic. Or there doesn’t need to be any words attached to the thing that will become an artifact in the Museum of Broken Relationships. “It’s really free form.” All the items will go on display — they’ve set up mannequins in the arts centre, because there will be clothes, but other than that, objects will go under Plexiglas. Like in a museum of natural history.
Deck says the museum resonates across cultures and languages — everyone probably has something they’d want to donate. She called her sister to ask her to send a can of mace. “I dated a night club bouncer. He gave me a can of mace to carry around. I never used it. I never carried it around.” She kept it because she thought it was a thoughtful gesture. Deck gave it to her sister, because she studies late at the library and walks home. Her sister never used it, either.
Now, the thoughtful gesture, representing a relationship that’s over, will be on display at the Yukon Arts Centre. It will become part of the permanent collection of goods that travel the world.
Not all of the artifacts are exhibited in every place the museum goes. Deck says there are “star players” that are used to supplement the local showings. She knows there’s a moped, and a wedding dress that travel with the exhibition.
Deck says it’s a unique opportunity for Yukoners to add their voices to the traveling exhibition. “This is a way to put objects in another place, on display. “It’s a commemoration to an ex-lover, wife, husband. “If you’re angry, it could be spiteful “It could be a way to let go. “If a partner died, it could have a different meaning.”
The museum is a peephole into people’s private lives. It’s a look into dusty storage lockers. It’s an airing. A letting-go. It’s different for each person.
The Museum of Broken Relationships is calling for Yukon artifacts until February 19. If the delivery truck arrives on time, that means tomorrow, assuming you’re reading the paper the day it hits the stands.
You can contribute. Go to www.brokenships.com to submit your very human artifact. Become art history.
The display opens at the Yukon Arts Centre on March 5. Olinka Vistica, one of the original artists who broke up, will be there. The exhibit runs until May 23.