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CHICAGO — Fairytales are make-believe until a subsect of the Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church decides to protest them.
Ukranian-Canadian artist Taras Polataiko’s experimental performance work “Sleeping Beauty,” a modern-day retelling of the titular fairytale restaged at the National Museum of Art Ukraine from August 22 to September 9, has been decreed “lesbian propaganda” by the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate, located in the city of Bryukhovychi, Ukraine.
The official statement was released today and sent to Ukranian President V. Janukovyvh, Ukranian Prime Minister M. Azarov, Speaker of Ukrainian Parliament V. Lytvyn, Minister of Culture of Ukraine M. Kulyniak, members of the Ukranian Parliament, and the mass media. Polataiko’s controversial Sleeping Beauty exhibition was almost shutdown by the Ukranian Ministry of Culture early in its run.
In the exhibition/performance, museum visitors who desired to kiss one of the five Sleeping Beauties had to sign a legally binding contract stating that if she awoke, the two would have to marry. Of the five Sleeping Beauties in the exhibition, only one opened her eyes — and it was to the kiss of another woman. This came as a surprise to both the Sleeping Beauty and the woman who smooched her.
Gay marriage is illegal in the Ukraine, so it is unclear if the two women will travel to another country in order to marry, or they will just remain “just friends.” The two women appeared surprised by the entire incident.
The official statement released today by the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate is written in Ukranian and has been translated into English by Polataiko. It states that the woman-to-woman kiss moment in “Sleeping Beauty” is “not just an innocent play, but is actually an ideological means to promote perversion.”
It goes on to say that the National Art Museum is “supposed to represent culture and history of the people, instead of being a vehicle for propaganda of actions, which aim not only at demoralization of the people, but slow destruction of the people as well.”
This announcement comes shortly after the October 2 news that the Ukranian parliament voted in favor of bill 8711, a new law that would ban “propaganda” about homosexuality. The bill also forsees jail time for people who disseminate favorable or positive information about gay people. The law does not explain what exactly it means by “promotion of homosexuality.”
A second vote of this bill is scheduled for October 16; if it passes at that time, it will be signed into law by the parliament and president.
Activists like Olena Shevchenko of Insight organization are working to halt the law. They are worried that its reach will extend beyond just queer issues.
“It is quite serious,” Shevchenko tells Gay Star News. “It is not just about LGBT rights. It can be about anything, because it is just censorship.”
Artist Taras Polataiko did not mean for the piece to spark such controversy — and he certainly did not predict the queer outcome.
“I had no idea that my quiet and innocent piece would end up causing such turmoil,” Polataiko says. “It’s impossible to tell what happens next, and where ‘Sleeping Beauty’ will go from here, considering that now it’s being used for the political/religious infighting, with two weeks left before the Ukrainian Parliamentary election.”
* * *
The following are the three Ukrainian-language letters (accompanied by English translation provided by the artist) that were issued by the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate Church and the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine:
Letter from Ministry of Culture of Ukraine to Director of National Art Museum of Ukraine
From: Ministry of Culture of Ukraine
To: Ms. Mironova, Director of National Art Museum of Ukraine
Oct 8, 2012
Dear Ms. Mironova,
The Ministry of Culture has received a letter from the Secretariat of Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (dating Sept 26, 2012) regarding complaint by the Byzantine Universal Catholic Patriarchy (dating Sept 9, 2012) concerning the artistic action “Sleeping Beauty” at the National Art Museum of Ukraine.
We ask you to provide the Department of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Values with an explanation of the matter brought up in the letter before Oct 10, 2012.
Attached: 2 letters.
Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage and Cultural Values
Letter from the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate to Ukrainian President, PM, Parliamentary Speaker, Minister of Culture, and all MPs
Mr Kostycky, National Expert Commission of Public Morals Defense
Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate
Bryukhovychi, 79491, Ukraine
Phone/Fax: +38(032) 234 6341
Dear Mr Kosticky,
We are writing to you with a complaint on the director of the National Art Museum of Ukraine. She has allowed the artistic action “Sleeping Beauty” by Taras Polataiko, which had propaganda of lesbianism as its subject. As reported by mass media the so called “Sleeping Beauty” woke up from the girl’s kiss. At the time when the number of laws secretly promote perverted LGBT ideology, this action is not just an innocent play, but is actually an ideological means to propmote perversion.
National Art Museum is supposed to represent culture and history of the people, instead of being a vehicle for propaganda of actions, which aim not only at demoralization of the people, but slow destruction of the people as well.
We are asking you to make sure that the National Expert Commission takes action in defense of social morals and preventative steps are taken, ensuring that National Art Museum will never in the future be able to be an vehicle of moral decay of the people, but would help in its development.
In the name of Byzantine Universal Catholic Patriarch
+ Methodi (signature) + Tymothy (signature)
Copies are sent to:
President of Ukraine V. Janukovych
Prime Minister of Ukraine M. Azarov
Speaker of Ukrainian Parliament V. Lytvyn
Minister of Culture of Ukraine M. Kulyniak
Members of Ukrainian Parliament
Letter from the Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate to the Prime Minister of Ukraine
From: Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate
To: Mykola Azarov
Prime Minister of Ukraine
Sept 15, 2012
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Mr. Azarov,
We are forwarding to you a copy of the complaint we have sent to the director of the National Art Museum of Ukraine, concerning an art action “Sleeping Beauty”, which propagates perversions.
Thank you for your attention,
Bishop-secretary of Byzantine Universal Catholic Patriarchate