HOW MUCH RIGHT DOES AN ARTIST HAVE TO QUESTION the meaning of historical monuments and symbols, such as “eternal flames”? Anna Sin’kova is a Ukrainian artist who fried eggs and sausages over the eternal flame monument in Kiev. She was arrested and faces up to five years in prison.
Sin’kova is charged with desecrating a grave, but she says, “The eternal flame is not a grave, it’s a propaganda memorial for a totalitarian communist regime.” [Source].
Artists do and say a lot of things to make their political points. A good piece of political art must be clear and bring a forceful message, and one that’s clearly understood by those viewing it. First, as a piece of art, does Sin’kova’s form and action get her point across? What meaning does cooking over this flame bring?
Critics of Sin’kova’s actions cried “blasphemy,” and “disrespect,” for the World War II soldiers who are honored by the monument. The artist defends her actions by saying the monument is a propaganda tool invented by the Kremlin. One could argue that all such monuments are propaganda created by governments.
Most importantly, however, did Sin’kova break any laws? And does she deserve to be arrested, and have her free speech curtailed, for a piece of [possibly] bad art?
Here’s a video of Sin’kova’s performance art piece: