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If you thought Spain’s Eskimo Jesus was the only controversial art story happening these days, think again: artist Taras Polataiko has taken it upon himself to realize the fairy tale classic Sleeping Beauty at the National Art Museum of Ukraine. The gist of the performance is: Polataiko dresses “beauties” who have volunteered for the part in white gowns and makeup. They lie sleeping on a bed in the museum for two hours each day. Anyone who visits the exhibition may kiss a beauty, and if she opens her eyes while being kissed, the two must marry each other.
Yes, you read that right. Both the performers and the viewers are required to sign contracts saying that they will marry if the woman opens her eyes while the kiss is happening. Everyone involved must be at least 18 years old and unmarried.
Polataiko seems to think he’s doing these women a real favor: “I hope they come, so it will be more interesting for the beauties,” he tells the Telegraph in the video embedded above. The paper also spoke to one of the women participating, who told an interviewer:
If it’s my true love, I will feel it on an intuitive level. Secondly, if I don’t feel it, I won’t open my eyes. Anything can happen in life. And suddenly it’s fate. What if it’s the only way I’ll meet my soul mate?
Where do to even begin?! The project perpetuates useless, even dangerous, heteronormative myths, namely that women need men to come find them, to wake them and save them; and that only men and women belong together, romantically. This isn’t art that engages with and challenges popular tropes; it simply reinforces them. If Polataiko had taken the Sleeping Beauty idea and twisted it — so that men slept while waiting for women to kiss them, or women slept while waiting for other women — that would be something worth seeing.