Trendysomething in Somo
Love hurts: Courting the Museum of Broken Relationships to repair a broken heart
Three beautiful young women accompanied me as I entered the Blaffer Art Museum to deposit my entry to the Museum of Broken Relationships, a traveling exhibit hailing from from Zagreb, Croatia that is hitting the University of Houston gallery in conjunction with the upcoming American Association of Museums conference.
To me, there were three incredibly appealing opportunities surrounding the project that encouraged me to submit an object:
- Having a piece in a museum
- Telling friends I have a piece in a museum
- Croatia is fairly trendy
I'd read about the mementos that the MBR has displayed in the past. Beyond the trite, lovey-dovey sonnets and engagement rings, there's the axe that had been wielded by a woman to break up her ex-girlfriend's furniture. There are gall stones, a Vespa, a fax machine, rollerblades, a wooden leg, a garter belt and airsickness bags. Could I beat the candy G-string, or the prosthetic foot lost during the Croatian war by a soldier who had a tryst with a social worker?
If you've seen The Object of My Affection, then you know not to fall in love with a social worker, because she (Jennifer Aniston) will try to marry you (Paul Rudd) and have your baby against your better (gay) judgment.
But back to the three babes I escorted into the Blaffer — these ladies of the night were none other than a trifecta of Disney princesses: Belle from Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Each entry in the MBR is anonymous, but accompanied by a brief description. My confession?
"Long story. First love, margaritas, etc. I'm just glad to have it off my hands."
The work, entitled "Piñata remnant," derives from a fateful "Cholos y Cholas"-themed Cinco de Mayo party. I had awoken to find my laptop open with the cursor hovering over the "Unfriend" button. Once I gathered the strength to enter the street, I shuddered when I remembered the story behind the stubborn dents in the roof of my Buick. Dark lip liner and silver eye shadow stains persist on my starched khakis. Our Christmas storage closet remains cluttered with tequila bottles that may be empty of liquids, but are surely full of secrets. And my ironic Sharpie-d "SOMO THUG" knuckle tattoo refuses to wash away.
The pitiful two objects donated by Houston denizens — mine and one other brokenhearted soul — will be added to 50 objects from the museum's touring and permanent collections, schlepped over from Zagreb in two suitcases by curator Drazen Grubisic.
"Every breakup is different," said Grubisic, who was indecisive about which is his favorite object. "It depends how you feel at the moment."
Why such a low turnout of objets trouvés from Houston art audiences? Perhaps it was the prolonged civil war in the Yugoslav peninsula that encouraged the cathartic collecting of somber experiences in Zagreb. Locals here tend to err on the side of cheerful.
Grubisic argues otherwise, citing an MBR installation in Bloomington, Ind. that received more than 50 entries. Yet, he says a similar stop in St. Louis garnered only three contributions.
Maybe it's futile to speculate that Houstonians are naturally non-hoarders, or that we haven't cultivated a celebrated culture of neurosis parallel to art centers like New York and former totalitarian capitals. Or maybe, the Museum of Broken Relationships is just as random as love itself.
An opening reception for the Museum of Broken Relationships will be held at Blaffer Art Museum from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday. Psychologist, family therapist, adjunct professor, consultant and public speaker Herb Agan will lead a lunchtime tour on June 1 at noon.