Telling Kosovo’s tales of the broken hearted

The Museum of Broken Relationships, an international travelling art exhibition, will be making its way to Prishtina in May.

From May 3 to June 1, the Lapidarium of the Kosovo Museum (the Glass House) will be hosting a pop up exhibition called the Museum of Broken Relationships Kosovo, a collection of objects and memories which tell stories of past loved ones and old relationships.

Two of the organizers of the exhibition to be held in Prishtina, Kushtrim Fetahu and Diellza Salihu, explained that they are looking for contributions from people all over the country to donate their objects and share their own stories of loved ones anonymously, to be showcased at the museum.

The call for contributions is open now, and closes on Friday, April 6.

“You can share almost any kind of story you have,” said Fetahu. “It can be memories of your romantic partners, your parents, your sisters, your friends, anything you want.”

– Tregoje storien tënde deri me 6 Prill, përmes linkut: – " I am an artist, and when my girlfriend and I lived together she would get antsy for my attention when I was working in the other room. One day when I was painting in our room, she came in and slid me a tiny piece of paper that said “Pay attention to me.” I found it maybe two years after we broke up, and it’s been in the change compartment of my car ever since. " – #Museum #Brokenships #Art #LoveStory #TellYourStory #TregojeStorienTende #brokenshipskosovo

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The original Museum of Broken Relationships began in Croatia, when two artists opened the first privately owned museum in Zagreb to showcase items they collected from people around the world that symbolize their broken relationships.

“Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic, two lovers from Zagreb, broke up after being together for around four years,” explained Fetahu. “When they met again some years later, they shared stories about the items they had kept that belonged to the other, and decided to bring them together in one place. Then they started asking their friends and others to do the same.”

Since 2006, people have donated their possessions, pictures, mementos and gifts left behind to the museum in Croatia, along with short confessional stories that preserve the memory of relationships past, where members of the public can go and see them, providing an interactive and universally relatable experience for its audience.

The museum is host to hundreds of different exhibits, from an axe used to chop up an ex’s furniture to an espresso machine stolen to spite them, and is constantly collecting new stories of heartbreak.

The Museum became internationally renowned, with the idea of exploring human relationships and preserving these emotions on display resonating with audiences around the globe. As with the project in Kosovo, pop-up exhibitions in different countries have been launched by others in collaboration with the team from Zagreb over the last decade, so popular that a second permanent exhibition launched in Los Angeles in the United States in 2016.   

“The exhibition has travelled all over the world, to India, Turkey, Finland, Denmark, Macedonia,” said Salihu. This year, the exhibition will be heading to Atla, Norway and Tokyo, Japan, with Prishtina as its next stop.

Along with the contributions the team in Kosovo are looking for, the organizers in Croatia that are collaborating with Fetahu and Salihu to launch the project in Prishtina will bring 20 or 30 objects and stories along with them to show at the National Museum.

Fetahu explained that once someone has donated their stories and items, they will not just stay in Kosovo. After the exhibition ends in June, they may become part of the permanent exhibition in Zagreb, or as part of travelling exhibition to be taken around the world to the museum’s next destination.

“A story they collect in Prishtina might end up being showcased in London, or Paris, who knows,” he said.

“You never know where these stories are going to go or who’s going to read them,” said Salihu. “Once you give us your objects you have to say goodbye, you’re never going to see them again!”

Donating items and sharing stories with the Museum of Broken Relationships can be a therapeutic way for people to move on from painful relationships, or a way to memorialize fond memories of loved ones, they explained.

When asked if they would be contributing their own mementos to the exhibition, Fetahu and Salihu laughed. “It’s confidential!” said Fetahu. “But yes, you might find our stories there as well.”

Salihu hopes this kind of open-minded experience, sharing personal stories and turning them into art, will encourage others to create their own projects.

“We think this will hopefully be a first step towards some other young people doing the same kind of thing.”

Interested in contributing? Follow the Kosovo team’s journey on Facebook and Instagram, or visit the website and follow the instructions to donate your own items and stories of heartbreak.

The call for applications ends on April 6.

Featured image: Atdhe Mulla.

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