Art is a crazy thing. It can be a dot, it can be a massive and detailed oil painting, a single word on a page or a tome of stories.
But what about love and fairytales? Are love and the fairytale magic of true love, artful?
Ukrainian artist Taras Polataiko thinks so. He created a “Sleeping Beauty” installation, where five beautiful women take turns sleeping on a pedestal in the National Art Museum of Ukraine for two hours a day, waiting for their chosen prince or princess to wake them with a kiss so they can marry.
That’s right: marry. Legal contracts signed by both the women and participating museum goers state that if the “beauty” opens her eyes to a person’s kiss, the two of them must marry.
The installation ran from Aug. 22 through Sept. 9, with the first woman “waking up” on Thursday, Sept 6 to the kiss of another woman. According to a statement made by Polataiko, both women began laughing almost immediately.
Same-sex marriages aren’t recognized in the Ukraine, so the two won’t be tying the knot, but they are pursuing a relationship in whatever form feels right to them, since the contract can’t be legally fulfilled and therefore cannot force them into marriage.
Here’s the deal: art can be extreme, I get that. It can be dramatic, jarring, joyful or passionate. But can one truly capture the truest form of love, a love that is supposed to bind two people together for the rest of their lives, in a random game of chance?
That’s what this is, a game of chance. Each young woman can open her eyes to any kisser she wants to, and she has no control over who kisses her. What if she kissed a nice looking person who ended up being abusive? Or someone who had a bad track record with monogamy? What if, on a slightly less extreme note, the person she opened her eyes to just wasn’t the one?
Each young woman had a choice, clearly, and while I’m not sure any of them made a good decision, it was theirs to make. That aside, it was also the artist’s choice to run the installation, and to the extremes that he did.
Polataiko wanted to recreate the story of “Sleeping Beauty,” where the princess slept for 100 (or 1000, depending on the version) years until her true love kissed her. Only the magic of true love could break the spell. The problem with Polataiko’s game is that there is no magic spell guaranteeing that his beauties will awaken to people who will truly love them, who they will also love in return. It’s just chance — a risky chance that could potentially hurt someone emotionally, if not physically.
Love can be portrayed in other mediums, and because it can’t be physically embodied, the mystery of it feels more powerful. Let’s keep it that way, because forcing love or love based on pure chance isn’t beautiful.
It’s just sad.