For the lovesick & heartbroken

Artel exhibit lets Kingstonians express how they really feel about love

Love me! Or leave me alone features anti-Valentines handmade by local artists.
Love me! Or leave me alone features anti-Valentines handmade by local artists.

With red and pink seemingly permeating the atmosphere, Valentine’s Day garners mixed reactions among the love struck, lovelorn and love-haters of the world. The day to celebrate love can ironically spark a lot of anti-love, or rather anti-Valentine, sentiment. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day’s approach, Love me! Or leave me alone is a show exploring contemporary treatment of the age-old holiday.

The show promises to “sooth heartache and pains in the ass.” On display at the Artel for one week is a banquet-style installation curated by Gjen Snider. A long banquet table occupies Artel’s main gallery space while a video plays at the end of the table. The video explores the excess surrounding the heavily consumer-driven day by showcasing the overwhelming display of Valentine’s Day junk you can buy at Dollarama.

“The exhibition’s installation was conceived as a ‘party’s over’ set: a scene where two people had prepared a feast, only to leave hastily and without care. It was also designed to be reminiscent of the shopping aisle on the video, long and narrow,” Snider told the Journal in an e-mail.

The show’s main component’s a collection of anti-Valentine’s Day cards, gathered through an open call for submissions. Snider ensured both the “heartbroken and love-capable” were welcome to submit. Submissions are still being accepted until Feb. 14.

Displayed within paper-mâché bowls, the cards invite visitors to take them out for a closer look. The cards’ media and sentiments vary—ranging from lighthearted humour to more overt cynicism. These aren’t the kinds of cards you’ll find in the Hallmark aisle.

“I know that the question I’m interested in is, ‘What is an anti-Valentine’s Day statement?’

“Valentine’s Day is a very unattractive tradition wholly inadequate to the task of expressing anything like love,” Snider wrote.

For me, the show was the perfect chance to exhibit my previously made “people are assholes” greeting card. Some of my other favourite greetings from the show include: “Size does matter” and the possibly more affectionate, “If you were a line I’d snort you.” The most intriguing part of the show, however, is the smelly deep-fried valentines taking centre stage on the table.

“[They] emphasize the original feast side of St. Valentine’s, but also to poke fun at the North American cultural reinvention of the tradition of valentines. What’s more North American than deep-fried?” Snider wrote.

In conjunction with Love me! Or leave me alone, a new zine called “Rinse and Repeat” is on sale at the Artel. The closing “Love Bites” reception for Love me! Or leave me alone is appropriately on Valentine’s Day, running in conjunction with the launch of Rinse and Repeat. CFRC DJ Melinda Richka will be there spinning some heartbreak beats.

Rinse and Repeat was created by the Semi-Precious Promises collective comprising of Jeff Barbeau, Ayaz Kamani and Lisa Visser. The zine includes writings, drawings and the results of a survey about being in love and being heartbroken.

“Love kills us. Then we are reborn. Then we watch TV,” Barbeau told the Journal in an e-mail.

According to Barbeau, the title “Rinse and Repeat” refers to what he sees as the circularity of falling in love, followed by inevitable heartbreak, passing out in a snowbank and then praying to St. Jude for help with getting a date.

Ayaz Kamani ensures the publication is more about love than heartbreak, exploring how love can be a collective feeling, but at the same time different for everyone. In addition to the zine, Kamani’s show at Verb Gallery, until the end of February, presents ideas that intermingle with those in Rinse and Repeat.

Anti-Valentine’s Day sentiments clearly don’t have to be depressing—both the art exhibit and the zine celebrate the creative process that can grow from questioning matters of the heart. Love me! Or leave me alone runs until Feb. 14. he Love Bites reception takes place Feb. 14 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Artel.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.