LOVE AND HEART­BREAK IN ZAGREB

Zagreb’s Mu­seum of Bro­ken Re­la­tion­ships is a repos­i­tory of love sto­ries that don’t have happy end­ings

Hindustan Times - Brunch - - FRONT PAGE - Text by Kar­tikeya Ra­manathan kar­tikeya.ra­manathan@htlive.com Fol­low @krtky on Twit­ter

“I do­nated a ho­tel bill from a hol­i­day I took with my then girl­friend. She told me she loved me, and broke up with me a week later.”

I t is a story that has been told a mil­lion times be­fore. Two peo­ple meet, fall in love, and be­fore you know it, they can’t live with­out each other.

But not all love sto­ries have happy end­ings. Some are ugly, full of pain, but just as pow­er­ful. And ev­ery re­la­tion­ship comes with a me­mento of it’s own. Some­times all it takes is a pho­to­graph or a ticket stub, and the mem­o­ries of a ro­mance from long ago come flood­ing back.

For some, it may be im­pos­si­ble to throw away such a me­mento. An inan­i­mate ob­ject for one can sig­nify the good phase of a bad re­la­tion­ship for the other.

A mu­seum in Zagreb, Croa­tia, has come up with the per­fect so­lu­tion for to­kens that sym­bol­ise cer­tain in­de­scrib­able phases of your life. Ded­i­cated to anger, nos­tal­gia, af­fec­tion and guilt, the Mu­seum of Bro­ken Re­la­tion­ships is a repos­i­tory of me­men­tos of pas­sions that have now fiz­zled out.

ONCE UPON A TIME

De­signer Drazen Gru­bisic and film pro­ducer Olinka Vis­tica first came up with the idea when they tried to save, trans­form and ul­ti­mately over­come the break­down of their own re­la­tion­ship. Like ev­ery cou­ple, they sat down to di­vide their pos­ses­sions af­ter their re­la­tion­ship was beyond the point of sal­vage. They came up with the idea be­hind the mu­seum as they joked about find­ing a place to store the to­kens of love – both ma­te­rial and im­ma­te­rial – they’d col­lected dur­ing their time to­gether.

Gru­bisic and Vis­tica held their first ex­hi­bi­tion in Zagreb in 2006, us­ing a ship­ping con­tainer to dis­play ob­jects do­nated by friends and ac­quain­tances. And just like that, the Mu­seum of Bro­ken Re­la­tion­ships was born.

To­day, the once trav­el­ling ex­hi­bi­tion has a per­ma­nent home in Zagreb’s Old City area. So far, the mu­seum has trav­elled to 44 cities in 28 coun­tries, and boasts a foot­fall of over a mil­lion peo­ple. In 2016, it opened a branch in Los An­ge­les.

Peo­ple can con­trib­ute in three ways – dur­ing a do­na­tion call in their city, by mail­ing it to the mu­seum, or by up­load­ing vir­tual con­tent per­tain­ing to their breakups on the mu­seum’s web­site. All do­na­tions are anony­mous.

The col­lec­tion is al­ways chang­ing and evolv­ing. The mu­seum has

over 2,200 me­men­tos. How­ever, only five ob­jects are from In­dia, so far.

LOVE ANY­WAY

At any time, the mu­seum ex­hibits around 100 to­kens, each with a lit­tle write-up ex­plain­ing why it was pre­cious to the con­trib­u­tor.

One such to­ken was by a 70-year-old woman from Yere­van, Ar­me­nia, who do­nated a post­card she re­ceived as a youth from a neigh­bour who was in love with her. Fol­low­ing Ar­me­nian tra­di­tion, his par­ents asked the woman’s par­ents for her hand, but were turned down. Mad with grief, that boy then drove his car off a cliff.

An­other was a photo of a square where a young cou­ple met ev­ery day. The con­trib­u­tor said that was the spot where their re­la­tion­ship be­gan, and that was where his girl­friend broke up with him, say­ing that she was sick of his jokes.

Not all to­kens are about ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships though. One con­trib­u­tor do­nated a toy given to her by her mother be­fore she was aban­doned as a three-year-old. An­other con­trib­u­tor, who was raped as an eight-year-old, do­nated the po­lice re­port her par­ents filed.

The sto­ries be­hind each ob­ject is dif­fer­ent – some make you laugh, some make you cry. Each ob­ject is a lit­tle piece of life, pre­served and pre­sented as a means of cathar­sis.

And be­fore you ask, yes, I too do­nated some­thing to the mu­seum. A ho­tel bill, from a hol­i­day I took with my then girl­friend. She told me she loved me, and broke up with me a week later.

1. & 3. Zagreb’s Mu­seum of Bro­ken Re­la­tion­ships is the per­fect rest­ing spot for me­men­tos of re­la­tion­ships gone bad. 2. This post­card was sub­mit­ted by an Ar­me­nian woman, who re­cieved it from an old flame. 4. An empty photo frame, the last mem­o­ries a fa­ther has of his chil­dren. 5. A Pol­ish woman do­nated her mother’s dress in an at­tempt to cope with her un­timely loss. 6. & 7. Olinka Vis­tica and Drazen Gru­bisic founded the mu­seum af­ter ac­cept­ing the end of their re­la­tion­ship. MESSY MAT­TERS OF THE HEART

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