You can cry and scream, or you can do what these 12 artists did…
“My long distance ex-boyfriend broke up with me over a WhatsApp conversation. Breaking up in person was impossible, and so it happened over a cyberspace of floating words instead. Like the anticipation of heating something up in the microwave – I was in constant agony waiting for a reply. When I heard back, it was gut-wrenching words that broke my heart. I put Polaroids I photographed in the microwave. What I photographed did not matter – it was what happened to the Polaroid once popped into the microwave that did. Burnt and damaged they resembled me through the wretched phase of my relationship.” – Hansika Jethnani, Xhibit Artist, London College of Communication, UAL.
See it now: Xhibit 2016 @UAL
Forget storing memories of your ex in a tattered shoe box – display the remnants of your break-up in the Museum of Broken Relationships instead! Sheer exhibitionism? Cathartic relief? Closure? Whatever the motivation, you are free to share in and gawk at others misery in a united “we’re so over you” front. From a toaster stolen out of spite, to a used axe that a spouse had used to smash up every bit of her cheating husband’s furniture – there’s something for everyone. Even Jeremy Clarkson revealed to Sunday Times readers that he was impressed: “…most of the world’s museums are filled almost entirely with stuff that’s not very interesting. (This) was the only museum I’ve visited where every single thing on display was utterly fabulous. Certainly, I must confess, as I moved from exhibit to exhibit, that I felt a tinge of fear that the next would be a teddy bear with a severed head and a short accompanying story about a former local newspaper reporter with an interest in cars and a very small gentleman sausage . . .”
3. PUBLICLY SHAME THEM: Get Ex-ting
“I obviously date the wrong people,” artist, Allison Wade told The Cut after she received a text message from an ex telling her: “I’ll contact you after the burial”. She never heard from him again. It prompted her to comb her phone for other break-up texts and used these, along with inspiration from rom-com clichés to create a series of Break-up Text paintings, which showcase the messages she’d sent and received at the end of various relationships. Dizzying texts: “WTF!!! You left for Ibiza without me,” to “Sorry I have been out of touch this week. There was a snowstorm and I have been watching movies,” to “on Zanax at the airport had a panic attach please stop calling me” are juxtaposed against jaunty colour hues – perhaps a nod to the cold nature of screen-based communication.
4. FLAUNT IT
You can cry or you can show them how good you can look – which is exactly what Alexis Housden, London College of Fashion, UAL student did when he based his MA16 Menswear show on a break up. “When someone leaves you, you think you are going die but you don’t – everything ends up OK and life continues – the world continues to be light and wonderful.” Housden’s collection represents mourning, anger and then rebirth.
5. BECOME AN ICON
It may very well have been a break-up that led to expressionist, Edvard Munch’s seminal work: “The Scream.” It’s 1892 and Munch confesses in his diary: “I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature…” His misery may have been born out of an ill-fated on-again, off-again affair with his cousin’s wife – irrational bohemian Tulla Larsen. The affair ended with a bang, when Larsen shot off one of Munch’s fingers with a revolver during an argument. Adding insult to injury, Larsen went on to marry one of Munch’s colleagues.
6. GET A DIFFERENT TAKE
French artist, Sophie Calle received an email sent to her by a boyfriend intent on breaking up with her. It ended with the words, “I would have liked things to have turned out differently. Take care of yourself.” And so, she did just that. Calle sent the letter to 107 women from different professions and backgrounds—a psychiatrist, an author, a rifle shooter, an opera singer, a family mediator, a lawyer, even a parrot—asking them to interpret the text. It resulted in her 2007 tour de force, Take Care of Yourself that saw an entire gallery taken over with interpretations and performances of the letter. The repetition of the original letter, played over and over again, led Calle to focus on the project – not the man. Voila! Take her of herself, she did.
Old Loves. The name invokes images of elderly lovebirds, but it’s actually an exhaustive catalog of celebrity couples who are no longer together. From Matt Damon and Winona Ryder, to Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt, and Cher and Gene Simmons. The ex-files are out.
8. FACEBOOK PHASE-OUT
Not only does Facebook have a dedicated Compassion Team – it also has tools that allow you to digitally fade out former lovers. Product designer, Emily Albert got thinking when she found it difficult to face her former flame’s Facebook post. Solution? Create a tool that prompts users to choose from a variety of phase-out options after changing their relationship status: “Take a Break. Here are some changes that might be helpful. We won’t notify Taylor of any changes you make. See less of Taylor. See Taylor on Facebook only if you visit his profile.”
9. CREATE YOUR ULTIMATE BREAK-UP FANTASY
Want to live in a world where your ex gets run over by a train? Where lovers rule and the cheats who have wronged them perish in a dinosaur attack? Well, now you can thanks to artist Laura Stokes and her collaborator Nichole Cordin who have created ‘Revenge Dioramas’ – based on break-up fantasies, which they photograph and post to their Facebook page. Countless stories of betrayal inspired Stokes to make her revenge dioramas: “I realized this is really a thing that women in particular need,” she told Mashable. “We need to laugh at men. With all the headlines about men taking away our reproductive rights, denying us justice in court for rape and sexual harassment, refusing to listen and believe women about their experiences, there’s a lot of justified rage in women right now,” she said. “This is just one way to feel some catharsis about that, to strike back just a little bit.”
10. REPLACE THE OLD WITH THE NEW
Constantly comparing? Hard to let yourself fall for new love? Matthew Swarts dealt with these questions he split up with a long-term girlfriend and then found a new one a year later. He channeled the change-over in two photo series. In Beth, he manipulates old photos of his ex-girlfriend so she slowly fades from view. In The Alternatives, he manipulates images of his new girlfriend to represent the complicated process of forging a new bond.
11. GET A MAKEOVER: “Love Raised Me Lipstick Saved Me.”
New York City based make-up artist, Angelique Velez founded Breakups to Makeup, an accessory & apparel line, showing that makeup is more than a simple product – it’s art. And sometime the only thing better than saying it – is wearing it.
12. REBRAND YOURSELF
Take a leaf out of Nicole Leth’s book and rebound from a break-up by launching a business and becoming ridiculously successful. Founder of Sex + Ice Cream, a clothing brand that could be described as “breakup art,” based on “graphic patterns, bright colours, traditional fiber techniques mixed with modern processes, and honest storytelling of my girlhood.” Every fiber of Leth’s being goes into her designs—she’s literally personally attached. “All of the patterns and prints I use are scanned directly from my diary,” she told Nylon.