Friday, August 9, 2013

Healing and Hugs in Taipei

If you are looking to get over a failed relationship, some help can now be found in Taipei. As reported in Want China Times (via Shanghaist):
Hundreds of people flocked to an exhibition, centered on failed relationships and their ruins, in downtown Taipei Saturday to take part in a hugging event that organizers hope will heal locals who have experienced broken relationships.

The visitors, mostly young girls, held cards reading "Can I hug you?" or "Can you hug me?" during the event, in which strangers are expected to share stories about their previous relationships.

Organizers of the exhibition, titled Museum of Broken Relationships, also had an elephant mascot on standby for those who were too shy to ask for hugs from humans.
The exhibition began in Croatia and according to its website:
The Museum of Broken Relationships grew from a traveling exhibition revolving around the concept of failed relationships and their ruins. Unlike ‘destructive’ self-help instructions for recovery from failed loves, the Museum offers a chance to overcome an emotional collapse through creation: by contributing to the Museum's collection.

Whatever the motivation for donating personal belongings – be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, or simple curiosity – people embraced the idea of exhibiting their love legacy as a sort of a ritual, a solemn ceremony. Our societies oblige us with our marriages, funerals, and even graduation farewells, but deny us any formal recognition of the demise of a relationship, despite its strong emotional effect. In the words of Roland Barthes in A Lover's Discourse: "Every passion, ultimately, has its spectator... (there is) no amorous oblation without a final theater."
If you are interested in attending, the exhibition will remain in Taipei until September 1 (details here).

The news about the hugging reminded me of an experience I had in Taipei in April. While walking around a popular shopping area, I met five friendly people.

5 youth in Taipei holding signs reading 'Free Hugs Share Your Love'

They held signs declaring "Free Hugs -- Share Your Love", and I hugged everyone. There was no mention of failed relationships. Instead, they said their goal was raising money for a children's charity.

Both events were remarkable to me since Taiwan was a bit more "conservative" regarding hugging when I first stayed there over 10 years ago. So even when the The Museum of Broken Relationships leaves Taipei, a variety of opportunities may remain for hugs in Taipei. Finding an elephant to hug might be harder though.

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