Exhibition breaks stereotypes about broken relationships

This letter once encapsulated the playful emotions of a couple who are now no longer together.

SUBANG JAYA: The hollow hall felt haunted, but not by ghosts. Rather by a feeling of profound and palpable sadness as it was lined with artefacts left behind from unsuccessful relationships. Each item, a testament, symbol and proof of what could have been.

Over 60 artefacts are on display at the Break Up Exhibition at Sunway University, organised by its Psychology Department in collaboration with the Psychology Club as an impassioned attempt to normalise and validate the emotional turmoil that break ups often bring.

The items are meticulously placed around the hall, each provoking a myriad of thoughts and emotions from the visitors who stop by for a look.

This beer can holds an ugly and traumatic story of an abused father who once was a kind man.

There are guitars, beer cans, hoodies and candy wrappers on display here. While each in its original solitary form are merely monotonous, static and filled with everyday drab, in this exhibition they are elevated to an almost reverent state.

Many looked intrigued by the items on display, most likely wondering what went so horribly wrong in the relationships yet careful not to touch the items for fear that even the barest physical contact would transfer the pain the artefacts harbour.

Although the idea of a physical representation of heartache might seem unconventional, attendees of the exhibition proffered positivity towards it, almost as an act of solidarity with the broken-hearted souls who these items once belonged.

A stack of movie tickets from a couple who once had a mutual love for movies is among the exhibits on display at the Break Up Exhibition.

The event took over six months to plan and execute, and the memorabilia was donated by the public anonymously with a write-up explaining the significance of the item.

This is the second year that the university is hosting this exhibition with the majority of the items being soft toys, clothing and bracelets.

Within the first two hours, an estimated 200 people streamed in to see the exhibits.

Plushies given by Malaysians on display at the Break Up Exhibition.

“This is the silent topic that nobody wants to talk about and it happens to everyone. Most people experience break-ups and this topic is very close to their hearts,” said Meng Zhen Lim, a psychology lecturer at Sunway University.

He added that Malaysians tend to suppress their feelings, most likely due to the lack of emotional education.

“You go to primary school for six years, secondary school for five years and university for four years without a single lesson about emotion,” said Lim.

“The main benefit is about creating awareness that relationships are a big issue and it is not shameful when you break up. This is something that needs to be addressed, so through this exhibition we formally recognise your relationship,” Lim explained.

The Break Up Exhibition is a way of according due respect to the loss of a loved one and all the emotions that come with it whether physical or emotional in nature.

The Break Up Exhibition was funded by the psychology department of Sunway University. Funds were boosted by student contributions.

Break Up Exhibition 2.0
Art Gallery, 1st Floor
Sunway University
Bandar Sunway
47500 Selangor

Oct 3 – 4 (Thurs and Fri): 10.00am – 8.30pm
Oct 5 (Sat): 10.00am – 4.30pm

Admission: Free