Sleeping Beauty awakens – to another princess' kiss

Daryna Shevchenko Author: Daryna Shevchenko All articles by this author

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Sep. 07, 2012 18:41
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Sleeping Beauty Yana Gurzhiy, a 24-year hairstylist, opened her eyes to Kyiv Mohyla Academy student Katya Kopylenko.
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All fairytales have an end, even the one about Ukraine’s Sleeping Beauty. This ending looks to be a happy, although slightly unconventional one.

The object of the game that started Aug. 22 in National Art Museum of Ukraine was for someone -- presumably, but not necessarily, a man -- to kiss one of five Ukrainian Sleeping Beauties. If she woke up, they would get married, or so the updated version of the fairytale went.

One of them did wake up on Sept. 6. But the awakening came after the lips of another woman -- a princess, not a prince -- landed on Sleeping Beauty's forehead.

Sleeping Beauty Yana Gurzhiy, a 24-year hairstylist, opened her eyes to Kyiv Mohyla Academy student Katya Kopylenko, who is two years younger. Gurzhiy says she couldn’t tell she was being kissed by a woman. “I decided that I will open my eyes to anyone who kissed me somewhere on the face besides the lips.” And Kopylenko planted one on Gurzhiy’s forehead.

“Of course I was surprised to see a young woman there,” Gurzhiy says. “Though I don't think I would be less surprised if I would see some unknown man.”

But now it gets complicated if marriage is in the offing, since Ukraine doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages. And conservative Ukrainian parents don’t either. “My mom was so angry at me for taking part in this project,” Gurzhiy says.

Gurzhiy doesn’t know what’s going to happen. She and Kopylenko have no exact plan to get married yet. Both of them rather think about their relationship as about their common interests in art, the Beauty says. "It is an art project first of all," she says. "I know we were supposed to get married, but according to the law, marriage is only possible if the two sides agree," she said. Gurzhiy is vague about her attraction to women, but she said she doesn’t rule anything in or out.

The project’s creator, artist Taras Polataiko, said it all happened so fast. "There was one moment where I saw (Gurzhiy) open her eyes and the next moment they were both laughing,” Polataiko said.

Gurzhiy, however, didn’t manage to take Kopylenko’s cell phone number, but they plan to meet on Sept. 9, the last day of the project.

During her time at the exhibit, which has gotten a lot of international attention, Gurzhiy said she received one other remarkable and “shameless” kiss “It was very long and I heard the guard trying to take the kisser away from me and saying “enough! enough!” Then I wanted to open my eyes to see what's going on.” She said, however, she would be too scared to marry someone “like that.”

There are still four more Sleeping Beauties to potentially awaken until Sept. 9. They took turns sleeping during the exhibit. “So no matter how the previous princess finished her three days sleep the next one will still have her chance till Sept. 9,” Polataiko explains.

National Art Museum of Ukraine

Aug. 22- Sept. 9

Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., 4 p.m.-5 p.m.

Friday, Saturday 4 p.m.-5 p.m., 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

Hr 20 (Valid ID needed)

Kyiv Post staff writer Daryna Shevchenko can be reached at


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