Your View is a recurring series of opinion pieces from members of The New Tropic community. To share your ideas, goals, and work about Miami with the community in a Your View piece, please submit it to [email protected].
Inspired by ubiquitous expressions of love and heartbreak style in cities across the world, a couple of us got together last year to organize an exhibit on lost love in all its forms.
This project was conceived out of our own curiosity and guided by a desire to engage Miami, our home, in a conversation about the shared human experience of heartbreak. “Love Lost, Miami” was meant to be in part a destination during Art Basel, in part a response to Miami being typecast as a superficial city, in part proof of the beauty of building community.
We hoped that turning individual losses into art would yield a vulnerable, arresting, and thought-provoking exhibit and unite Miamians in a shared moment of release, communal grief, remembrance, and joy.
And so for one week during last Art Basel 2016, we showcased artifacts that that recalled stories of lost relationships – the traumatic, hilarious, fracturing, enraging, ironic, and grateful tales Miamians submitted to us. From the roughly 100 submissions we received, we selected and exhibited 42 objects, from playlists and old frozen meatballs to unused wedding mementos and therapy art, from a set of dice to a half-empty bottle of wine, from boxers in a Ziploc bag and a corset with a top hat to a broken suitcase and a lock of hair.
These seemingly ordinary objects took on powerful meaning from the stories attached to them. They became relics of unfinished stories and broken bridges, deserted homelands and missed opportunities, endured trauma and peaceful resignation. Through them, lost love was no longer just a single and solitary destination. We saw it take the shape of a communal mosaic of sadness, anger, bewilderment, pain, gratitude, and even humor.
“What a beautiful way to connect hearts, souls, and minds with each other. Intimacy and understanding have a home here. Beautiful event. Remember, nothing is ever lost.”Anonymous guest book comment from “Love Lost” attendee
We also realized we had struck another another chord in context of Art Basel. In contrast to its eminent and global reach, our small show was exclusively and acutely local. In contrast to the commercial machine of art collection and acquisition humming in Miami that week, nothing we exhibited was for sale (or probably had much monetary value).
We were warmed by the flood of feedback saying Love Lost provided a haven and a welcome respite from the glitz and hustle of Art Basel. In our guest book, someone wrote “Thank you for the humanizing experience during Basel” Someone else added “I enjoyed this the most! Very relatable. Love that it is local and REAL.” A third echoed, “What a great concept & exhibition. Raw, beautiful, thought-provoking – art at its best.”
Sharing their stories hopefully helped our participants with their own personal journeys, purges, and recoveries. One exhibitor commented, “Thank you for helping me let go of something, the only thing I was holding on to: It was the last item I had of my marriage and this truly was the perfect resting place for it.”
By sharing these stories openly, we all bore witness to the universality of hope, hardship, joy, loss, and survival. One poignant comment in our guest book read, “I thought I was the only one. Thank you for making this and helping me heal.”
Ultimately, after observing attendees crying, hugging, laughing, speaking with strangers or remaining silent for an hour as they walked slowly around each item, we realized that our ultimate accomplishment had been to plant a little extra empathy toward our neighbors, our city, our relationships, and ourselves.
“Thank you for sharing what it means to be human.”Anonymous guest book comment from “Love Lost” attendee
This year, surprised, invigorated, and humbled by last year’s experience, we are back at it. So go ahead, submit your proposed item by July 1 and participate in this experience with us again during Art Basel 2017. As a reminder, any object is welcome: the fork used for a breakup meal, a heartfelt friendship letter, the ticket from the last show, a set of forgotten collectibles, the regretted engagement ring. Even the most ordinary items can hold significance. We will review suggested submissions in July, and reach out to every person who submitted an item by August.