Photographer Statia Grossman’s ‘Sh*t You Left Behind’ Series Shows the Perfect Way to Cope with a Break Up

What do you do when you break up with someone and they leave a whole bunch of their stuff in your apartment? If you’re New York-based photographer Statia Grossman, you make an artistic project out of it and call it “Shit You Left Behind.” A series of sharply shot photographs paired equally sharp captions, it’s both funny and poignant — and it might just be the best way to work through a breakup ever.

“Shit You Left Behind” began life as a Tumblr, with a description reading simply, “He broke my heart and left. He also left a lot of his shit in my apartment. I photographed it all before tossing it. Hell hath no fury like a photographer scorned.” Speaking to the Huffington Post, Grossman elaborated on her inspiration for the project: “I really ran with it as a way to work out my feelings and my anger. It was visceral,” she said. The project has since been turned into a book, Shit You Left Behind: Hell Hath No Fury Like a Photographer Scorned, which hit bookshelves and the Internet just last month.

Grossman’s series bears some similarities with HERCLAYHEART’s “Lover’s Shirts”; both, for example, deal with love, loss, and what those who leave us abandon in their wake. Unlike “Lover’s Shirts,” though, “Shit You Left Behind” doesn’t shy away from some of the more explosive emotions that breakups give rise to: The anger, the cursing, the lashing out, and more. These feelings and inclinations are just as important to sort through as the sadness and the melancholy — and, indeed, a certain amount of strength can even be drawn from them. As the book’s description on Amazon states, it’s “a true testament to the shitstorm that is human romance and relationships…. Each artful photo offers another glimpse of the fractured relationship that wasn’t meant to be, and the strength it takes to move on.” Ayyyyy-men.

The identity of Grossman’s ex is kept under wraps, but each photograph presents a variety of clues as to both what kind of person he was and what Grossman thinks of him now. He was a musician, for example:

He was careful about his appearance (and possibly overly fussy about it):

He occasionally brought home random trinkets like balloons as signs of affection — although his inclinations towards hot air may have filled more than just the balloons:

He wasn’t great about helping maintain their home:

He wasn’t always the easiest person to read:

And his dirty laundry was a pain both in the physical sense and in the figurative one:

Time is the only thing that helps you heal,” said Grossman to HuffPo. “Working on this really helped in that I had a great big distraction in those few months after the breakup. It helped pass the time.” 

This observation is particularly interesting when held up alongside a recently-published study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science: Research conducted by Grace Larson of Northwestern University and David Sbarra of the University of Arizona found that reflecting back on relationships when they end can help us better deal with our breakups. Spending time thinking about the relationship, it turns out, helps us reorganize how we see ourselves — not as part of a pair, but as a completely separate and unconnected individual. “Shit You Left Behind” demonstrates the same concept: Dwelling on the relationship; looking at the remaining material items framed as “yours,” rather than “ours”; and separating yourself from your ex in the process.

Of course, a little revenge sometimes helps, too:

Check out more of the project over at Grossman’s website and Tumblr. The Shit You Left Behind book is available at Amazon. 

Images: Courtesy Statia Grossman

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