ukraine’s sleeping beauty: art as allegory


The lights are dimmed in Ukraine’s National Art Museum in Kiev.

Five women are taking turns sleeping in a room as a part of an exhibit by artist Taras Polataiko. Visitors can kiss the sleeping woman on the lips. If she decides to open her eyes, she must marry the person she wakes up to.

Visitors to the exhibit must prove their unmarried status, undergo an oral herpes test and sign a contract consenting to the instant marriage. While same-sex marriages are not permitted in Ukraine, female visitors have the option of marrying in other countries that do.

Polataiko says, “The idea behind the project is patience.” I think the exhibit is a dizzying statement on love, attraction, the politics and institution of marriage, and the notion of sight and seeing in love.

As for its commentary on Ukranian politics, Natalia Antonova writes in The Guardian:

Following the failure of the Orange Revolution in 2005, when life in Ukraine could have changed for the better but didn’t (I fully ascribe this failure to political infighting), a new wave of anger has been brewing in the country. But there has yet to be a catalyst for real change. In that sense, Ukrainian society is like the Sleeping Beauty: waiting for the kiss that may wake her or, if you will, for the leader she will finally be glad to follow. It’s all terribly essentialist, and yet very much applicable to the political climate of today.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s