The Museum of Broken Relationships
At No Vacancy Gallery right now, it’s not the items on display that are of interest – it’s the stories attached to them. Based in Zagreb, Croatia, with outposts internationally, the Museum of Broken Relationships collects discarded items from the dumped, the dumpers, grieving loved ones and miscellaneous other heartbreakees from all over the world.

The Melbourne exhibition shows a small selection from the original collection, and includes objects sourced locally. Memories of heartbreak have attached themselves to these nondescript items. The more obscure the object, the deeper the sinking feeling when you find out the story behind it.

The significance of some of the objects is obvious – a wedding dress, a marriage certificate, lacy underwear – but others, less so. There’s a pile of Werther’s Originals, a ceramic rolling pin and a copy of Alice Munro’s book Something I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You (apparently there was plenty he wasn’t telling her).

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Plenty of the stories are moving. An old Winfield Blue cigarette box, with the warning “smoking is addictive”, commemorates a sister who died of a heroin overdose. But it’s not all death and break-ups; a vinyl copy of Ryan Adams’s album Heartbreaker is from a Melbourne-based fan who has lost her love for his music after recent abuse allegations.

The Museum of Broken Relationships is at No Vacancy Gallery until September 29.

Bauhaus Now!
Perhaps the best-known legacy of influential German art school Staatliches Bauhaus is its architecture: sharp, modern and monochrome. The school was closed by the Nazis in 1933, but this exhibition marks a century of Bauhaus art, championing a very different side of the movement: bright, handmade and a bit mad.

The bulk of the ground floor is taken up by Mondspiel (Moon Play) (2019), a huge, cacophonous installation by Mikala Dwyer and Justene Williams that responds to the early years of the Bauhaus movement. It includes a mass of dirt and foliage behind glass like a huge terrarium, black coffin sculptures, and videos bordering on the psychedelic.

Upstairs, things are a bit more pared back, with works dating to the early 20th century alongside more modern pieces such as re-creations of iconic Bauhaus sculptures that hark back to the handmade, inventive ethos of the movement. Rose Nolan has scavenged cast-off consumer packaging for her sculptures, which look like little architectural models. And you can physically sit down and play with the series of wooden “pedagogically useful toys”, or educational toys, designed by Architecture post-grads at the University of Melbourne.

Bauhaus Now! is at Buxton Contemporary until October 20.

A Place in Time: Photographs by Viva Gibb
Don’t be surprised if you haven’t come across the documentary photography of Viva Gibb before. This is the first public showing of her work for 30 years. Seeing these photos now, taken around west and north Melbourne in the ’70s and ’80s, is like discovering a time capsule. The images capture perfectly ordinary Melbourne lives, with many of the subjects captured on their front doorsteps. But the photographs are brimming over with hidden life.

A Place in Time: Photographs by Viva Gibb is at Monash Gallery of Art until September 29.

23° and Rising by Matthew Stanton and Abigail Varney and Polar Convergence by Rohan Hutchinson and Philip Samartzis
The changing ecological conditions at the Tropic of Capricorn and the two poles are in focus at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Fitzroy.

Matthew Stanton and Abigail Varney’s photographs capture heat, light and life in Australia’s northern-most parts. Stanton finds fire and haze in Far North Queensland, and foliage taking over everything, drooping over rivers, creeping into buildings and filling the frame. Varney captures Darwin in December, on the cusp of monsoon season, with brooding skies, rain, sweat and Christmas movies on TV. You can almost feel the heat.

In the next room, Rohan Hutchinson’s soft, light photographs of the Arctic and Antarctic are beautiful enough in themselves, but there are a few twists. Next to every photograph is an identical one violently covered in black smears. Hutchinson has exposed the prints to the Australian sun, destroying the pristine white with a molten black mess. Alongside the images, a soundscape by Dr Philip Samartzis plays. It’s built from sounds captured in the same landscapes – which are, worryingly, mostly the sound of running water.

23° and Rising and Polar Convergence are at CCP until October 20.

Then, Closer by Elena Papanikolakis
Elena Papanikolakis’s scratchy little oil and acrylic paintings withhold more than they tell in the Australian artist’s new show Then, Closer, which is divided into two rooms.

First, a trio of recent paintings, possibly abstracts, recalling ceramic patterns, all soft colours and gently faltering lines. The work in the second room offers more to pick apart. Nine paintings on paper, collectively titled Potential (2019) are broken up into part one, part two, et cetera. The titles suggest a loose narrative, and while visually it’s difficult to tie images of The Acropolis, the artist’s own childhood home, and abstract forms of women together, as a collection they’re full of longing, memory and beautiful inscrutability.

Then, Closer is at Reading Room until October 5.