Heart-wrenchingly hilarious

The Edge Gallery hosts second annual display of artifacts from relationships gone awry


It’s not everyday that a gruesome break-up spawns an art exhibition in its honour.

Yet, that’s exactly what happened when Croatian couple Drazen Grubisic and Olinka Vistica, an artist and a filmmaker respectively, broke things off in 2010.

They decided to display the memorabilia from their past relationship in an exhibition entitled The Museum of Broken Relationships.

Claire Childs, a local artist, programmer and curator who works for The Edge Gallery and Urban Art Centre, and Art City, was intrigued by the idea of creating a break-up museum of sorts.

“I heard about it on CBC and thought that it was a brilliant idea. We don’t really have ceremonies for break-ups; we usually go get drunk or don’t talk about them,” Childs says. “So this is kind of useful in that it honours (the relationship), and you can see how much of a cheese-ball everyone else is as well.”

Childs adopted the Museum of Broken Relationships framework and began the Museum of Broken Hearts - a Winnipeg branch of the Croatian creation housed by the Edge Gallery.

Displaying all kinds of items that might remind someone of a former lover, be they old wedding dresses, mix-tapes, even an ax used to smash an ex’s former belongings, Museum of Broken Hearts is a simultaneously tragic and hilarious artistic experience.

To celebrate last year’s inaugural exhibition in February (on Valentine’s Day coincidentally), Childs and company dissected pig hearts.

“It’s pretty nasty, but that was something that we did in high school,” Childs says. “The science teacher would always get pig hearts to dissect on Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of gross, but it’s twisted enough that people like it.”

Anonymous donors submitted all of the artifacts on display for the museum. Though names were foregone in order to protect the privacy of those involved, brief descriptions on each item’s significance can be found alongside the mementos.

The anonymity of the submissions lends a mysterious charm to the exhibition.

“You might think of it differently if you know who it is,” Childs says. “With this it could be anybody you know, your next door neighbour, the mayor…”

Childs also notes that it’s important to recognize the humour in the heartbreak.

“I’ve noticed looking back at old love letters and stuff, our memory is so bad and inaccurate. It’s like ‘Man, I loved him so much! It was probably me, I was probably an idiot,’ and then you look back and you go, ‘Wait, we were probably both idiots!’

“Some people have thought they should just throw everything out, but actually it’s really good to keep it. I mean, it’s something so sad, but then you go to this gallery and you see everyone else’s stuff, and it’s really very funny.”

Museum of Broken Hearts runs from Feb. 14 to Feb. 26 at The Edge Gallery and Urban Art Centre (611 Main Street). For opening night, the gallery will be open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is free, though donations are welcomed. The Edge Gallery is regularly open Tuesdays through Fridays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.edgevillage.com.

Published in Volume 67, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 7, 2013)

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