The Altar installation to explore heartbreak

Photo courtesy of Museum of Broken Relationships

From Petrarch’s sonnets to Taylor Swift’s heartbroken ballads, there exists a historical tradition of recounting tales of lost love and transforming the art that stems from the relationships into some sort of retribution. That is exactly what Brooklyn-based artist Kate Stone seeks to capture in her month-long installation, The Altar: Good Memories of Bad Love, set to debut at the Museum of Broken Relationships. The interactive project will run from Sept. 9 to Oct. 1 and aims to provide visitors with a place to fondly look back at past relationships and honor the bygone memories they created.

Patrons are invited to box up objects that hold the worst memories of a relationship and then sacrifice them at The Altar. With its assistance in the symbolic act of letting go, The Altar hopes to be a centerpiece in an ongoing journey of an appreciative and mature perspective on what once was.

The project is a sequel to Stone’s illustrated book of short stories, How We End, which was made in collaboration with L.A.-based writer Hannah Schneider. The book traces the romantic past of an unreliable narrator to underscore the volatility of heartbreak and the way we continue to tell stories despite their distance from the truth. The pair began writing the book in an effort to chronicle their relationship struggles while dating in their mid-20s. The installation will include relics featured in the book as well as those contributed by visitors.

“Because of our different backgrounds — mine in photography and Hannah’s in writing — it is really interdisciplinary. It’s photography, it’s fiction, it’s a book, it’s installation, it’s performance,” Stone said.

Stone also emphasized that the objects on display in the exhibit would be symbolic of life, death and love.

“They include things like flowers, spiders, moldy fruit, fishing lures and moving boxes,” Stone said.

Stone and Schneider added a personal touch to the installation, with phones that visitors will be able to pick up in order to eavesdrop on recorded conversations the two had with their exes about the stories based on them.

In the midst of the Museum of Broken Relationships’ generally heart-wrenching vibe, The Altar provides a therapeutic platform at which to let go of sadness and instead focus on the rebuilding of the self. Moreover, the permeation of Stone’s and Schneider’s personal romantic pitfalls offers visitors shelter from any feelings of consuming loneliness. In contrast with a revenge narrative or a bitter chronicle, the installation serves as a reminder of the universality of heartbreak and the many ways one can infuse tragedy with transcendental meaning.