When filmmaker Olinka Vištica and sculptor Dražen Grubišić ended their relationship about 10 years ago, they had “the talk” about their future. Would they be friends? What would happen to the archeology of their time together, you know, their stuff?
“At the time, you’re not really aware of what you want,” Vištica says. “It (breaking up) was not an easy thing to do. It never is. But we never dreamed that an idea we had during our talks of preserving our connection would lead to this.”
In 2006, the idea born of their heartbreak became the award-winning Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, where they live. Its internationally renowned touring exhibit has been in London, Shanghai, New York City, Paris and other places, and now, Boise.
“It was an idea scribbled on a piece of paper,” Vištica says. “When we were accepted in the show, we didn’t know how people would react. Would they leave their stories with us? It went viral from the first moment, and then it snowballed.”
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Vištica and Grubišić came to Boise in late January to install the exhibit at Ming Studios, where it will be on display until Thursday, March 3. It’s filled with 64 items. Twenty-five of the items that are on display now were donated by the brokenhearted in the Treasure Valley. The rest are from the museum’s permanent collection of items donated from around the globe.
The installation has been very popular, says Ming founder Jason Morales. “We were packed for the opening and people stayed for like an hour looking at things,” he says.
Ming received a total of 50 items from local people, accompanied by their anonymous stories, so on Tuesday, Feb. 16, the next 25 will be rotated into the show. Morales also is planning to be open for Valentine’s Weekend from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, and Sunday, Feb. 14.
The museum offers a chance for people to overcome an emotional collapse in a creative way.
It turns out, breakup is a universal experience. Whatever we do, wherever we live, no matter what language we speak or what religion we practice, we all can relate.
“We’ve all felt it,” says Boise’s Samantha Silva, who was behind the effort to bring Vištica and Grubišić to Boise. “We have a way to heal through sharing with people all over the world.”
She first saw the traveling exhibit in London in 2011. “I was so touched by it, I became obsessed with bringing it to Boise,” she says.
The exhibit fits in with Ming’s mission to bring international artists to Boise, so Morales was instantly on board. They received a Boise City Department of Arts and History grant for the project.
The bonus was that Vištica and Grubišić would come here to install the pieces themselves.
“I really like coming to places,” Vištica says. “Boise is not the first obvious choice for this show, but from the start it was a very personal inquiry from Samantha, and we were intrigued.”
The items on display represent a cross section of the lovelorn world, and more than a dash of irony when on display in February, known as a month of romance.
“Wherever we go, we find that we are all equal in the breakup,” Vištica says. “Then style, culture and environment give another dimension, and how we tell the story makes it different. For example, in Basel, Switzerland, the stories were very long and sad. In the U.S., they tend to read like a movie. Then some people don’t tell you anything.”
Today, Vištica and Grubišić spend more time together than when they were involved, she says.
“If not for the museum, we would not be so close,” Vištica says. “We communicate on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s possible to keep the best and move forward.”
Museum of Broken Relationships
3 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays, and by appointment, now until Thursday, March 3, Ming Studios, 420 S. 6th St., Boise. Valentine’s hours: 3-7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 and Sunday, Feb. 14. Free.